A New York high school teacher from Long Island has been charged after images and videos of child pornography on his Google account and on electronic devices were obtained through a search warrant at his residence, officials said citing an unsealed indictment.
Joseph M. Zanco, 43, was charged with transportation and possession of child pornography. If convicted he faces a mandatory minimum of 5 years imprisonment and a maximum of 20 years imprisonment, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) statement.
Massapequa HS physics teacher pleads not guilty to child porn charges. Freed on bail but will be kept out of classroom and can only have contact with his 6 year old when another adult is present. pic.twitter.com/Co6AJL8IQT
— GREG CERGOL4NY (@GREGCERGOL4NY) August 13, 2018
Zanco, a teacher at Massapequa High School, was arrested on Aug. 13, and has been accused of uploading hundreds of images of child pornography to the Google Drive storage feature of his Google account. Google flagged the uploads, suspended Zanco’s account and notified law enforcement, in accordance with its policies and federal law.
Search warrants were then obtained for Zanco’s residence and Google account, where child pornography was found. His laptop computer and cell phone also contained similar images and videos.
Case ‘Particularly Troubling’
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said the alleged crimes were committed while he was employed in a position that was based on trust.
“As alleged, Zanco possessed and transported hundreds of images of child pornography, crimes that contribute to the victimization of minor children, while he was employed in a position of trust as a teacher,” United States Attorney Donoghue said in the statement.
“The protection of innocent children is a priority for this Office and our law enforcement partners. We will continue to make every effort to ensure that those who contribute to the victimization of children will be brought to justice.”
Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge from the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), said the case was “particularly troubling.”
“This case is particularly troubling because the defendant allegedly committed these crimes while employed as a teacher,” HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez also said in the statement.
“HSI actively works with our law enforcement partners in the shared fight against those who are engaged in the spread of this content, especially those who have been entrusted with the education of our youth.”
Zanco was released on a $300,000 bond with the conditions where he must refrain from using the Internet and wear a monitoring bracelet, reported NBC. He has also been placed on administrative leave pending the case.
Massapequa schools superintendent said in a statement, “We take these allegations very seriously, as the safety and well-being of our children is our paramount concern,” reported the news station.
The 43-year-old was arrested as part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, which was launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. The aim of the initiative is to “to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse” by locating, arresting and prosecuting individuals who exploit children via the internet, and identify and rescue victims. The program is run in cooperation with the United States Attorneys’ Offices, the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, and state and local resources, according to the DOJ statement.