CAMDEN, N.J. – A New Jersey man pleaded guilty Monday to distributing child sex abuse images over the Internet. The guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Cherry Hill. HSI offices in Boston; Messina, N.Y.; Los Angeles and San Bernardino, Calif.; as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Ogdensburg, N.Y., assisted in the investigation.
According to court documents, law enforcement intercepted Gerrett Conover, 48, of Woolwich Township, at the U.S. border Sept. 16, 2012, coming from Canada into New York. He was in possession of a laptop containing images of sexually exploited children. HSI special agents obtained a search warrant for Conover’s home in Woolwich Township and seized various computers and other media containing additional images of child sexual abuse. The search also uncovered materials allegedly establishing Conover’s involvement in the Boy Scouts between 1990 and 2000.
Conover admitted he knowingly distributed images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct. He has been in custody since he was arrested Sept. 20, 2012.
Conover faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 15.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.