Former Assemblyman Sentenced To Prison In Child Porn Case

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TRENTON –Former state Assemblyman Neil M. Cohen was sentenced to prison today for distributing child pornography, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.

According to Taylor, Cohen, 59, of Paramus, was sentenced to five years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Gerald J. Council in Mercer County. Cohen will be permanently barred from any public employment or elected office, and he will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law. Council ordered that Cohen be returned for 10 days to Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, where he had been involuntarily committed, while the Department of Corrections works out how Cohen will be placed in the prison system.

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Cohen pleaded guilty on April 12 to endangering the welfare of a child (distribution of child pornography). That second-degree charge was contained in an indictment obtained by the Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau.

In pleading guilty, Cohen admitted that he viewed images of child pornography on a computer in the 20th Legislative District Office in Union Township and printed copies of images of child pornography that he placed in the desk of a female receptionist in the office.

“By viewing and distributing child pornography, Mr. Cohen made himself a part of the network of suppliers and users whose actions serve to promote this abhorrent exploitation of children,” said Dow. “Prison is the appropriate sentence for his crime.”

“Mr. Cohen’s use of a computer in his legislative office to print out child pornography compounded his offense,” said Taylor. “State residents should feel outraged that he used equipment paid for with their tax dollars to commit this despicable crime.”

The case was prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Anthony A. Picione, Deputy Chief of the Corruption Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Christine Hoffman, Chief of the Corruption Bureau. They represented the state at sentencing. The charges are the result of an investigation by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice.

In July 2008, the New Jersey State Police were notified of child pornography found in the 20th Legislative District office that Cohen shared with state Sen. Raymond Lesniak and Assemblyman Joseph Cryan. The State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice immediately began an investigation.

Detectives from the State Police and Division of Criminal Justice executed a search warrant to seize the hard drives from the computers in the legislative office. A review of the hard drives yielded multiple images of child pornography. The investigation revealed that Cohen was the individual who viewed and printed child pornography. Cohen was first indicted by a state grand jury on Dec. 17, 2008. That indictment was superseded by a second indictment on July 9, 2009.

Cohen served more than 16 years in the New Jersey Assembly. He resigned from the Assembly on July 28, 2008 after the investigation became public.

The investigation was conducted for the Division of Criminal Justice by Sgt. David Salzmann, Detective Michael Behar, Sgt. Warren Monroe, Detective Harry Maronpot, and Deputy Attorney General Anthony A. Picione in the Corruption Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Kenneth Sharpe in the Computer Analysis and Technology Unit.

The investigation was conducted for the State Police by Detective Sgt. 1st Class Bryant Hoar, Detective Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Celli III, Detective Sgt. Karl Ulbrich, Detective Deniele DeBoer and Detective Anthony Carugno of the Official Corruption Unit; Sgt. Charles Allen, Detective Gregory Godish and Lt. Keith Halton of the Digital Technology Investigations Unit; and Detective Denman Powers of the Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory.


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