Public Notices and Press Releases

Middlesex County Resident Faces Serious Charges in Child Abuse Case

Francisco Villafane, 37, Detained on Multiple Counts Related to Child Sexual Abuse Material

In a significant development, Francisco Villafane, a 37-year-old man from Perth Amboy, Middlesex County, New Jersey, has been formally charged with serious offenses involving child pornography. U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced that Villafane faces one count each of possession, receipt, and distribution of child sexual abuse images. The charges come as part of a determined effort to combat child exploitation and highlight the ongoing efforts of law enforcement to protect vulnerable individuals.

Villafane's arrest on February 12, 2024, was followed by his initial court appearance the next day before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jessica S. Allen in Newark federal court, where he was detained pending further proceedings. This case draws attention not only because of the heinous nature of the charges but also due to the collaborative efforts involved in the investigation.

The accusations stem from interactions dating back to 2020 when Villafane allegedly engaged in text message communications with a minor. After a period of lost contact, the communications resumed in late 2023, during which Villafane is accused of exchanging and soliciting sexually explicit content from the minor, including videos at his request.

The legal repercussions for Villafane are severe, with the possession charge carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The receipt and distribution charges are even more stringent, each bearing a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and the potential for up to 20 years in prison, along with a $250,000 fine for each count.

Praise was extended to the Newark Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, led by FBI Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy, and the Perth Amboy Police Department under Chief Larry Cattano, for their investigative efforts. Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel H. Rosenblum of the General Crimes Unit in Newark represents the government in this case.

It's important to note that these charges are accusations at this stage, and Villafane is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This case underscores the critical work of federal and local law enforcement agencies in tackling child exploitation and the importance of community awareness and vigilance in protecting children from abuse.

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