NJ Man Convicted of Child Pornography Threw Evidence into Bay, Morris County Prosecutor Warns of Online Danger
A Middlesex County, NJ man was convicted yesterday, June 28, on several counts of child sexual abuse involving images stored on a personal iPad.
Charles F. Browne, 52, of South River, NJ, was found guilty on June 27, following a six-day trial in a Trenton federal court of receiving child pornography, soliciting child pornography, possessing prepubescent child pornography, and concealing objects to impede the FBI's investigation.
Following the conviction, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office released a Public Safety Announcement for Parents and Children regarding online safety and the potential hazards of child sexual abuse online.
The announcement notes that over the past several years, “there has been a dramatic increase in online activity among our nation’s youth. Law enforcement agencies across the country are seeing a rise in sexually explicit materials by children of all ages.”
“Children must be mindful of what they post and share through these electronic means, because social media and technology document everything, even photos and messages a child may assume was deleted or temporary, or that was intended to be private. Data shared through electronic means can be accessed and potentially disseminated to others even after being deleted. Moreover, individuals communicating with children through electronic means can misrepresent their true age, gender, or identity. The dissemination of electronic data may subject the child to harassment or ridicule, and even create the potential for extortion or kidnapping.” – Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, Public Safety Announcement
According to the details of the case that prompted this Public Safety Announcement –
In September 2017, a cloud-based file service company informed the FBI of apparent child sex abuse materials uploaded to, and maintained in, an account with the screen name “Charles Browne” and an email address containing the term “cbrowne.”
The FBI obtained the files uploaded to the online account, which included prepubescent child pornography and two copies of Browne’s Resume.
On April 8, 2019, law enforcement officers stopped Browne in his car as he left his home. Browne was given a Miranda warning and interviewed by police about the FBI's ongoing child pornography investigation.
Browne initially denied having an iPad, but then, in response to the agent’s questions at the conclusion of the interview, revealed that the iPad was in Browne’s home.
Interviewing police officers told Browne that an online file account contained two images of prepubescent child sexual abuse created by an Apple iPhone Model 5C camera. Browne denied knowledge of the photographs and at the conclusion of the interview was dropped off back at his locked car.
During Browne’s trial, he confessed that he broke into his locked vehicle after being interviewed by law enforcement, removed an iPad and his iPhone, walked to a local private beach club, and was observed by a neighbor as he walked to the end of a dock and threw his devices into the water.
Once Browne returned home without his devices, the FBI conducted a canvas of the area and located the neighbor who had observed Browne throwing his iPad into the bay. The FBI sent in a dive team, which recovered Browne’s iPad and iPhone – Apple Model 5C – from the water.
The devices were repaired and reviewed and led the FBI to discover videos and images of child sexual abuse on both of Browne’s devices.
Web history from the iPad revealed that Browne sought out images of child sexual abuse the day before law enforcement officers interviewed Browne.
Evidence from Browne’s iPhone revealed that Browne sent emails to others seeking child pornography “vids.”
The charges against Browne for receipt and solicitation of child pornography each carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison with a maximum penalty of twenty years and a fine of $250,000.
The charges for possession of child pornography carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and an additional $250,000 fine.
The charges related to concealing evidence to impede a federal investigation carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and once more an additional $250,000 fine.
Sentencing for Charles F. Browne of South River, Middlesex, NJ, is scheduled for November 9, 2022.