States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|March 24, 2011||
Project Safe Childhood:
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations office in Boston, announced that JONATHAN MICHAEL ZAHRA, 27, of Plainville, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty today before United States Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford to one count of manufacture of child pornography. The charge carries a mandatory minimum prison term of 15 years.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office, working with ICE-HSI and many other investigative partners, are committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of society, our children,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “I want to thank the New Britain State’s Attorney’s Office and the Plainville Police Department for their critical assistance and cooperation during the course of this investigation, which has helped to remove a child sexual predator from the community for a long period of time.”
“This case is yet another example of our firm commitment to investigating child exploitation and bringing those responsible for it to justice,” stated ICE-HSI Special Agent in Charge Foucart.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in March 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“ICE-HSI”) received information through the Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Virginia, that an international investigation involving crimes against children had identified ZAHRA as possibly grooming minors and having engaged in sexual contact with minors. At the time, ZAHRA was a technology assistant at a Plainville Middle School and a member of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program in that town. After receiving information from ICE-HSI, the Plainville Police department executed a search and seizure warrant at ZAHRA’s residence on March 12, 2009, and seized numerous computer-related components and media. Subsequent forensic analysis of the seized items by ICE-HSI disclosed photographs of a minor victim engaged in sexually explicit contact while in ZAHRA’s home.
The investigation has revealed that ZAHRA took sexually explicit photographs of the minor victim in 2008.
ZAHRA is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson on June 13, 2011, at which time ZAHRA faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 40 years. ZAHRA has been in state custody since his arrest on May 1, 2009.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Plainville Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Deborah R. Slater.
U.S. Attorney Fein noted that this prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative, which is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
To report cases of child exploitation, please visit www.cybertipline.com.
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Department of Justice
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