New Jersey Man Convicted of Several Child Pornography Charges after Throwing Electronic Devices into Bay

2 mins read
FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

TRENTON, N.J. – A Middlesex County, New Jersey, man was convicted of several counts involving images of child sexual abuse, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Charles F. Browne, 52, of South River, New Jersey, was found guilty on June 27, 2022, following a six-day trial before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court of receiving child pornography, soliciting child pornography, possessing prepubescent child pornography, and concealing objects to impede the FBI’s investigation.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

In September 2017, a cloud-based file service noticed that apparent child sex abuse material had been 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 that were 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’s vehicle as he left his residence. Brown was given a Miranda warning and interviewed by law enforcement officers about the FBI’s ongoing child exploitation investigation. Browne initially denied having an iPad and then, in response to the agent’s question at the conclusion of the interview asking where his iPad was, responded that it was at home, which was approximately one mile away. Law enforcement 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 child pornography. At the conclusion of the interview, Browne was dropped off at his vehicle, which was locked.

At trial, Browne confessed that he broke into his vehicle after the FBI interview, removed an iPad and his iPhone, and then walked to a local private beach club. Browne was observed by a neighbor as he walked to the end of the dock and threw his iPad and iPhone into the bay.   

After Browne returned to his residence without his electronic devices, the FBI conducted a canvass 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 – an Apple Model 5C – from the bay.

The devices were repaired; review of the data recovered from the devices revealed videos and images of child sexual abuse. Web history from the iPad reflected that Browne had sought out images of child sexual abuse on the iPad the day before law enforcement officers interviewed Browne. Evidence from Browne’s iPad and iPhone reflected that Browne sent emails to others seeking child pornography “vids.” 

The counts of receipt of child pornography and solicitation of child pornography each carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and fine of $250,000. The count of possession of prepubescent child pornography carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The count of concealing objects to impede a federal investigation count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 9, 2022.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jesse Levine of the Newark Division, Assistant Director Michael Driscoll of the New York Division, and Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr., of the Birmingham Division; the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Lori Linskey; the Monmouth County Sherriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Shaun Golden; the Ocean County Sherriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy; the Tom’s River Police Department, under the direction of Police Chief Mitchell A. Little; the South River Police Department, under the direction of Police Chief Mark Tinitigan; and the Manalapan Township Police Department, under the direction of Police Chief Edward Niesz, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty verdict.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jamie L. Hoxie and Jonathan Fayer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Newark.