States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|June 27, 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, was sentenced today by Chief United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to 180 months of imprisonment, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for manufacturing child pornography.
“Working with ICE HSI and many other investigative partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting children from sexual exploitation and removing sexual predators from the community,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “I want to commend 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.”
“If you exploit children, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for your actions,” stated ICE HSI Special Agent in Charge Foucart. “This sentence serves as a warning that ICE and its federal, state and local partners in law enforcement will remain relentless in identifying, investigating and arresting these individuals for their crimes.”
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 has been in state custody since his arrest on May 1, 2009.
On March 24, 2011, ZAHRA pleaded guilty to one count of manufacture of child pornography.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Plainville Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Deborah R. Slater. The state case against ZAHRA is being prosecuted by the New Britain State’s Attorney’s Office.
This prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood Initiative, and the District of Connecticut’s “Operation Constant Vigilance,” which are 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
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