FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2014
NEWARK, N.J. – A Hudson County, New Jersey, man was charged today for allegedly posing as a teenage boy to solicit underage females online to produce images of themselves engaged in sexually explicit conduct and then distributing those images to others, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Erik Vanderbeck, 47, of Bayonne, New Jersey, was charged by complaint with one count of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of distribution of child pornography. He is scheduled to appear in Newark federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III.
According to the Complaint filed in Newark federal court:
Vanderbeck allegedly met various minor females through online chat applications and in Internet chat rooms while pretending to be a teenage boy. Over the course of their correspondence, Vanderbeck would send the girls nude images and ask them to send him nude images of themselves. Once Vanderbeck received nude images, he would threaten to kidnap the victim or post her nude images online unless she sent more. When one of the victims threatened to report Vanderbeck to the authorities, he replied, “The cops will never catch me.” Vanderbeck also allegedly used nude images that he received from one minor victim to pretend to be a teenage girl named “Megan” in chats with other individuals online. Vanderbeck also distributed sexually explicit images, which he claimed to be of Megan.
Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Vanderbeck’s home in Bayonne on July 22, 2014. They recovered computer equipment belonging to Vanderbeck containing images appearing to be of child pornography.
Law enforcement officers have interviewed several of Vanderbeck’s victims, who said they produced images of child pornography out of fear and in response to his threats.
The charge of sexual exploitation of a child carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charge of distribution of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 20 years, and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited postal inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Maria L. Kelokates in Newark, and the Bayonne Police Department, under the direction of Chief Drew Niekrasz, with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Danielle Alfonzo Walsman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Carol Gillen, Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark