Jersey City man who got 25-year sentence for child porn successfully appeals fine

0

A Jersey City man who received a 25-year sentence in 2017 after admitting to filming sexual videos involving minors on his cell phone was unable to have his sentence reduced, but the amount he will have to pay in fines will once again go in front of a judge.

The Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex. Photo via Ballotpedia.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“At approximately 6:05 p.m., a judge issued a Communications Data Warrant (CDW) for defendant’s cell phone. Officer Sojak executed a search of defendant’s cell phone, viewed videos of two unknown juvenile victims and located over 1,800 images and videos of prepubescent children posing in various sexual positions,” state Appellate Division Judges Joseph Yannotti and Richard Hoffman recounted in their decision from Friday.

“On September 2, 2015, a Hudson County Grand Jury returned a twenty four-count indictment, charging defendant with three counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, three counts of second-degree sexual assault, fourteen counts of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, three counts of fourth-degree child abuse, and one count of obstruction.”

The defendant, referred to as only KDC to protect the identity of the juveniles, had police come to his Jersey City apartment on February 19th, 2015 after his girlfriend saw “disturbing videos” of his roommate’s nieces.

“Specifically, she recounted watching a video on defendant’s cell phone where defendant pulled the pants down on a child and ‘fondle[d] her buttocks’; in another video, she observed ‘the same child on a bed and [defendant] touching her vagina.'”

Eventually, after a motion to suppress the evidence found on his cell phone was denied, the defendant pleaded guilty to four offenses, including two counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child as part of a plea agreement.

He was sentenced to 25 years in with an 85-percent period of parole ineligibility, as well as a $5,500 contribution to the Sex Crime Victim Treatment Fund.

The law, which became official on April 26th, 2005, “imposes additional penalties on sex offenders in order to provide counseling and treatment to sex crime victims and their families.”

While the appellate court denied the defendant’s arguments that his cell phone was obtained through an illegal search and seizure, as well as that his sentence was excessive, they agree that the financial penalty imposed could have used further explanation.

“In this case, the judge failed to provide any reasons for the amount of the penalty imposed. Given the $5,500 amount, the judge also should have provided an assessment of defendant’s ability to pay the large penalty,” they wrote.

“We therefore remand to the sentencing court to reconsider the imposition of the SCVTF
penalty and provide a statement of reasons, including an assessment of defendant’s ability to pay, explaining the final amount imposed.”

The appellate court also ruled that this case clearly met the threshold for “consent to investigate.”

” … Based on the information the police received – regarding the child pornography on defendant’s cell phone, the children in the video potentially being in the apartment building, and defendant having young children of his own in the apartment – the officers were obligated to investigate.”