TRENTON –Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that a Burlington County man has been sentenced to state prison for distributing child pornography online. He was arrested in “Operation Safeguard,” a 2016 child pornography sweep by the Division of Criminal Justice, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, and the New Jersey State Police.
John Wilms, 50, of Mount Holly, N.J., who was a driver for a parcel delivery service, was sentenced on Wednesday, Jan. 29, to six years in prison, with three years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Philip E. Haines in Burlington County. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 23, 2019 to a second-degree charge of distribution of 25 or more files of child pornography. He was about to go on trial at the time.
In imposing the sentence on Wilms, Judge Haines found aggravating factors based on testimony that the child pornography videos that Wilms possessed and distributed involved extremely young victims, including infants, being subjected to extremely violent abuse. Wilms will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life.
Deputy Attorneys General Supriya Prasad and Rachael Weeks prosecuted Wilms for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jillian Carpenter and former Bureau Chiefs Julia Glass and Michael A. Monahan. Detective Charles Pusloski and former Detective Tiffany Lenart were the case agents, assisted by Detectives Richard DaSilva and Kevin Madore.
"This case starkly illustrates why child pornography falls under New Jersey’s child endangerment statute,” said Attorney General Grewal. “By creating a market for these violent images of abuse, offenders like Wilms drive the further abuse and victimization of children.”
“Child pornography is manufactured by torturing and sexually exploiting children, and those who view and distribute child pornography participate in that cruel exploitation,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “With this prison sentence, we deliver a strong message that these are very serious crimes and those who commit them will face stern punishment.”
“Wilms had more than a hundred videos of abuse, cruelty, and sexual assaults against innocent children, including infants,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The law enforcement community is placing these offenders on notice that we are actively working together to uncover their repulsive deeds and bring them to justice.”
“The distribution of child pornography is a global problem with local impact. Wilms robbed children, including infants, of their innocence and continued to sexually exploit them by freely trading the illegal and violent images with predators. HSI will continue to aggressively target those who prey upon and sexually exploit our children. We owe it to the young victims in these cases,” said Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Michael of Homeland Security Investigations in Newark.
During Operation Safeguard, detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice, special agents of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and detectives of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit monitored file-sharing networks popular with child pornography offenders. Using advanced technology, they searched for telltale digital “fingerprints” of known child pornography, as well as search terms used by those who download and share child pornography. Through these and other methods, they identified New Jersey residents who were downloading child pornography and making it available to others in “shared folders” on their computers.
Wilms was arrested on Feb. 25, 2016, when a search warrant was executed at his residence by detectives and agents of the Division of Criminal Justice, HSI, and the Mount Holly Police Department who were participating in Operation Safeguard. An HSI special agent previously had downloaded more than 25 files of child pornography from a shared folder at an IP address traced to Wilms. During the search, detectives seized a desktop computer and a laptop computer belonging to Wilms. Full forensic examinations of the computers revealed that they contained more than 180 files child pornography.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende urged anyone who has information about the distribution of child pornography on the internet – or who suspects improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – to contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.
Robert N. Agre, Esq., Haddonfield, N.J.