NEWARK, N.J. – A Passaic County man today admitted to coercion and enticement of a minor and to illegally reentering the United States, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Juan Carlos Morales-Pedraza, 34, of Paterson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to a superseding information charging him with coercion and enticement of a minor and of illegally re-entering the United States after having previously been deported.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On April 13, 2019, Morales-Pedraza approached a 15-year-old victim in Passaic County. Two days later, after engaging in sexual intercourse with the victim, Morales-Pedraza and the victim left the New Jersey, with plans to travel to Illinois. Morales-Pedraza admitted that he planned to engage in sexual conduct with the victim in Illinois. Law enforcement arrested Morales-Pedraza in Ohio.
Morales-Pedraza admitted that he is a citizen of Mexico and that he illegally entered the United States after having previously been deported.
The count of coercion and enticement carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and mandatory restitution. The count of illegal re-entry carries a maximum prison sentence of two years and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 14, 2021.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; 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 Organized Crime and Gangs Unit.