Suspended Trenton Police Officer Who Was Arrested in “Operation Safety Net” Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography

TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a suspended Trenton police officer who was arrested last year in the multi-agency child protection initiative “Operation Safety Net” pleaded guilty today to possession of child pornography.

Paul Marinelli, 53, of South Brunswick, N.J., pleaded guilty today to third-degree possession of child pornography before Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca Jr. in Middlesex County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that he be sentenced to 180 days in the county jail and a term of probation. Marinelli was suspended after his arrest and must forfeit his position on the police force as a result of the guilty plea.

Deputy Attorney General Brian Faulk prosecuted Marinelli for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Marinelli was arrested in an investigation by the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit.

The investigation began when the New Jersey State Police received information that emails containing child pornography were located in an iCloud email account maintained by Marinelli. The State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU) executed a search warrant at Marinelli’s home and arrested him on Sept. 6, 2017, after an on-site preview revealed images of child pornography on a hard drive. Detectives seized computer equipment including three laptops and USB flash and thumb drives. The equipment was taken to the New Jersey Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory, where a forensic examination revealed numerous images and three videos of child pornography on the computer devices. The investigation did not reveal any evidence of distribution of child pornography by Marinelli.

Marinelli was among 79 child predators and child pornography offenders arrested in “Operation Safety Net,” a multi-agency child protection operation conducted in 2017 by the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which is led by the New Jersey State Police and includes the Division of Criminal Justice, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, all 21 County Prosecutors’ Offices, and many other state, county and local law enforcement agencies. Ten alleged “hands-on” offenders were arrested, including eight New Jersey men, as well as men in California and Indiana who allegedly tried to have children transported interstate from New Jersey for them to sexually assault.

The cases are being prosecuted by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau under the supervision of Bureau Chief Julia S. Glass. Attorney General Grewal commended the detectives who handled the Marinelli case for the State Police DTIU, as well as all of the attorneys, detectives, agents and officers who conducted Operation Safety Net as members of the New Jersey ICAC Task Force and its partnering law enforcement agencies.

Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende urged anyone with information about the distribution of child pornography on the internet – or about suspected 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.

Defense Attorney: David P. Schroth, Esq., Ewing, N.J.

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