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Press Release

Sussex County Man Admits Distribution of Child Pornography

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A Sussex County, New Jersey, man admitted distributing videos and images of child sexual abuse, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Gaetano Lapegna, 65, of Franklin, New Jersey pleaded guilty on March 5, 2024, before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of distribution of child pornography.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From December 2022 to March 2023, Lapegna distributed videos and images of child sexual abuse via a publicly available online peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing program. During the course of the investigation, an undercover law enforcement officer conducted online sessions using the P2P program, during which a user shared hundreds of videos and images of child sexual abuse from an IP address traced to Lapegna’s address.

Subsequent to a lawful search of his residence on March 30, 2023, law enforcement officers recovered over 100 items depicting child pornography on Lapegna’s thumb drive. Law enforcement also found that Lapegna’s computer was running the same version of the P2P program from which law enforcement downloaded child pornography from Lapegna.

The count of distribution of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.  Sentencing is scheduled for July 23, 2024.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of Homeland Security Investigations Newark, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Alfonso, with the investigation leading to the guilty plea. He also thanked the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, and Franklin Borough Police Department for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Farhana C. Melo of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Newark.


Updated March 6, 2024

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 24-080