Former Middlesex County, NJ Sheriff’s Deputy Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Child Pornography Offenses

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FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Joshua Padilla, 37, of Eatontown, New Jersey, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, 10 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $15,300 in special assessments by United States District Court Judge Eduardo C. Robreno after being convicted of multiple child exploitation offenses. The defendant was charged with these federal offenses in July 2019, and was also charged with multiple related state felonies in February 2019 by the Office of Pennsylvania Attorney General.

In December 2021, the defendant pleaded guilty to one count each of producing, distributing, and possessing child pornography, charges which stemmed from an investigation into the defendant’s illicit sexual contact with a teenage girl. Padilla, who at the time of the charged conduct was a Middlesex County New Jersey Sheriff’s Deputy, recorded himself having unlawful sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl and later uploaded some of that video to an online social media platform. The defendant drove the minor to Northampton County, Pennsylvania to engage in this illicit sexual conduct. 

“While child exploitation cases are always horrendous, the conduct in this case is particularly offensive because of Padilla’s position of authority and trust in the community as a law enforcement officer,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “We stand ready with our federal, state and local partners to identify and prosecute those who would prey upon minor children – no matter who they are.”

“As a member of law enforcement, Padilla was trusted and sworn to protect his community. He lost that trust when he violated a minor and put children’s safety at risk,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “I am thankful for the hard work of my office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to hold Padilla accountable for his crimes and get a sexually violent predator off the streets. This sentencing is a reminder that being in a position of public trust does not put you above the law.” 


“Rescuing the victims of exploitation will always be one of HSI’s most sacred responsibilities, especially those in vulnerable populations such as minor children. The fact that this crime occurred at the hands of a sworn law enforcement officer makes it that much more egregious,” said William S. Walker, Special Agent in Charge of HSI’s Philadelphia office. “HSI and our partners in the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) will relentlessly pursue child predators, especially those in positions of trust and authority. I am very proud of the HSI Special Agents, PSP Troopers, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys that brought this investigation to a conclusion and ultimately served justice for the victim.”    

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case was investigated by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the Pennsylvania State Police, and Homeland Security Investigations, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Josh A. Davison and Special Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Laucella, cross-designated from the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.