Former APS Kindergarten Teacher Pleads Guilty to Federal Child Pornography Charges
Prosecution Brought Under Project Safe Childhood
ALBUQUERQUE – Joshua Weitz, 39, of Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty today in federal court to possession of child pornography charges. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Weitz will be sentenced within the range of 24 to 151 months in prison followed by 15 years of supervised release. Weitz will be required to register as a sex offender when he completes his prison sentence. Additionally, Weitz will be required to pay restitution in the amount of $1,000 to any victim associated with the charges against Weitz who requests restitution before Weitz’s sentencing hearing.
Weitz was arrested Nov. 11, 2015, on a federal criminal complaint alleging that he distributed, received and possessed visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct in Oct. 2015, in Bernalillo County. At the time Weitz committed the offenses, he was employed as a kindergarten teacher by the Albuquerque Pubic Schools (APS). APS suspended Weitz’s employment following his arrest in early Nov. 2015, on related state charges and subsequently terminated his employment.
According to the criminal complaint, the investigation into Weitz began on Oct. 11, 2015, when an agent of the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force identified a computer with an IP address, later determined to be subscribed to Weitz that was being used to share child pornography files. Between Oct. 11, 2015 and Oct. 22, 2015, investigators downloaded numerous of child pornography files from the computer at Weitz’s IP address. On Nov. 4, 2015, a state court search warrant was executed at Weitz’ residence and ICAC Task Force agents found that Weitz possessed a computer containing numerous files of child pornography. Weitz was arrested that day on related state charges, which were later dismissed in favor of federal prosecution.
Weitz was indicted on Dec. 2, 2015, and was charged with four counts of distribution of child pornography and two counts of possession child pornography from Dec. 14, 2014 through Nov. 4, 2015 and Feb. 4, 2013 through Nov. 4, 2015. According to the indictment, Weitz distributed child pornography on for occasions in Oct. 2015 and possessed child pornography between Feb. 2013 and Nov. 2015.
During today’s proceedings, Weitz pled guilty to Counts 4 and 5 of the indictment, the two possession of child pornography charges. In entering the guilty plea, Weitz admitted from Feb. 4, 2013 through Nov. 4, 2015, he downloaded videos and images of child pornography from the internet and saved them on two computers. One computer contained approximately 250 images and 358 videos of child pornography. The other computer contained approximately 34 images and 77 videos of child pornography.
A sentencing hearing for Weitz has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the New Mexico ICAC Task Force, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, the Albuquerque office of the FBI and the New Mexico Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory with assistance from the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Mease is prosecuting the case as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/.
The case also was brought as a part of the New Mexico ICAC Task Force’s mission, which is to locate, track, and capture Internet child sexual predators and Internet child pornographers in New Mexico. There are 82 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies associated with the New Mexico ICAC Task Force, which is funded by a grant administered by the Office of the New Mexico Attorney General. Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.