NEWARK, N.J. – A Passaic County, New Jersey, man has been charged by indictment with kidnapping a 15-year-old girl and transporting her to Ohio, as well as with being in the United States illegally after previously being deported, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Juan Carlos Morales-Pedraza, 33, of Paterson, New Jersey, was charged in a superseding indictment with one count of kidnapping, one count of transportation of a minor, and one count of re-entry of removed aliens. He was arraigned today before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Newark federal court and pleaded not guilty.
According to the superseding indictment:
From April 14, 2019, through April 16, 2019, the defendant unlawfully abducted “Victim 1” in New Jersey and transported her to Ohio, with the intent that she engage in sexual activity for which a person can be charged with a criminal offense. At the time of these crimes, the defendant was in the country illegally, after having been removed from the United States in 2010.
The count of kidnapping carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, a minimum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine. Transportation of minors carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and mandatory restitution. Re-entry of removed aliens carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents with FBI Newark’s Child Exploitation Human Trafficking Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie; the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office’s Sexual Investigations Unit, under the direction of Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes; and investigators with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Lake Township Police Department in Lake Township, Ohio with the investigation leading to the charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Francesca Liquori of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force in Newark.
The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty
Defense counsel: K. Anthony Thomas Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark