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Press Release

Sussex County Man Charged with 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 was arrested and charged with distributing videos and images of child sexual abuse, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Gaetano Lapegna, 64, of Franklin, New Jersey is charged by complaint with one count of distribution of child pornography. He appeared on March 30, 2023, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor in Newark federal court and was released on $100,000 unsecured bond.

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. 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 at least two videos and 100 images depicting child sexual abuse 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.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel, with the investigation leading to the charges. 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 General Crimes Unit in Newark.

The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Updated March 31, 2023

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 23-088