Saturday, August 17 2019

High Tech Crimes / Forensic Unit

The High-Tech Crimes/Digital Forensics Unit (HTCU) conducts investigations into crimes that involve the use of high-end technology such as computers, cellular telephones, telecommunications equipment and other advanced technology.  In particular, HTCU examines offenses involving the exploitation of children, network intrusion, hacking and DNS attacks.  The Unit is staffed by two detectives and overseen by a detective sergeant.

The Unit is a member the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and the New Jersey State Police Cyber Terrorism Task Force.

The HTCU assists the various units of the BCPO, along with local, state and federal agencies with search warrants and digital forensic examinations, to include computers, digital cameras, USB flash drives, Digital Video Recorder (DVR) systems, cellular telephones, iPods, iPads, tablets and GPS devices.

The High-Tech Crimes/Digital Forensics Unit has a three-prong mission:

  1. Online Undercover Activity: To proactively investigate criminal activity perpetrated over the Internet or aided by the use of computer or data communications technology.
  2. Data Forensics: To apply the scientific method and acceptable scientific standards to the preservation, identification, extraction, documentation, and interpretation of computer data and other digital evidence in an effort to prosecute the guilty and exonerate the innocent.
  3. Education Initiative: To educate the citizens, children, and business community of Burlington County on the current trends of crime committed through the use of the Internet or other computer or data communications technology and to provide methods and tools to avoid becoming the victim of such crime.

For the first component, investigators operate in an undercover capacity in an effort to identify sexual predators, frauds and scams, criminal organizations, online narcotics activity, child prostitution and pornography, hackers, terrorist organizations and other felonious activity facilitated through the use of the Internet and other data communications technology.  The second component involves forensically processing digital evidence for Burlington County law enforcement agencies, performing computer forensic examinations, and capturing and analyzing data that may be of evidentiary value to a criminal investigation.  The final component involves working with law enforcement agencies, parents and students to provide instruction on Internet safety and appropriate Internet behavior for children.

In 2016, HTCU Tech Crimes/Digital Forensics Unit assisted in more than 600 digital forensic examinations on over 475 different pieces of evidence, to include computers, digital cameras, USB flash drives, cellular telephones, small scale digital devices, tablet, GPS devices and Digital Video Recorder (DVR) systems.

SIGNIFICANT CASES DURING 2016

State v. Daniel Caplan

As part ICAC Task Force, the HTCU initiated an investigation based upon a cyber tip report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) regarding the uploading of images of child sexual abuse. The Internet Protocol address that was used to upload the images came back to a residence in Mount Laurel Township.  A search warrant was served at the residence by the BCPO, with the assistance of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigation Unit, and the Mount Laurel Township Police Department.  A forensic examination of the digital items seized was conducted by HTCU, which ultimately located numerous images and videos of child sexual abuse on a computer associated with Daniel Caplan.  These videos were created by Caplan while chatting online with underage pre-pubescent females during which Caplan convinced the girls to get naked and in some instances convince the girls to touch themselves sexually.  Caplan created the videos using a software program on his computer that would allow him to record the computer screen as he saw it at the time.  At the time the warrant was served, Caplan had pled guilty to a previous case for Manufacturing of Child Pornography and was awaiting sentencing. 

State v. Brian White

The HTCU responded to a complaint by the Florence Township Police Department regarding a 13 year-old female who was communicating with an individual in Connecticut who wanted to have sexual relations with her.  The detective sergeant took over the identity of the 13 year-old and began communicating with the subject.  The subject (later identified as Bryan White) who was already a registered sex offender, immediately turned the conversation sexual, and arranged to meet with the undercover detective to have sex with her – thinking she was 13 years old.  Arrangements were made for the 13 year-old to travel via bus to New London, Connecticut to meet with White.  The detective sergeant was able to get detailed communication from White regarding what type of sexual things he wanted to do after meeting the 13 year-old.  Ultimately, White traveled to the bus station in New London and texted that he had arrived.  White was arrested and found to be in possession of condoms and alcoholic drinks that he mentioned he would bring.  White was charged by Connecticut authorities with Criminal Attempt to Commit Sexual Assault and Criminal Attempt to Commit Risk of Injury to a Minor.  White was also charged by the United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcements Homeland Security Investigations with Attempted Enticement of a Minor to Engage in Unlawful Sexual Activity, to which he pled guilty to on February 22, 2017.  White was sentenced to 17.5 years in federal prison for this offense.  

State v. Robert Magrann

As part of the ICAC Task Force, the HTCU initiated an investigation based upon a referral from New Jersey State Police regarding an individual sharing child pornography through the BitTorrent Peer-2-Peer file sharing network.  The Internet Protocol address associated with this case came back to the residence of Robert Magrann in Maple Shade.  The assigned New Jersey State Police trooper was able to download several files of child pornography.  In June 2016, the HTCU obtained a search warrant for the residence in Maple Shade, which was ultimately executed at the residence by the BCPO, with the assistance of the New Jersey State Police – Digital Technology Investigation Unit and the Maple Shade Police Department.  A forensic examination of the digital items seized was conducted by the HTCU, which ultimately located more than 10,000 child sexual abuse on a computer associated with Robert Magrann.  He was charged with Distribution of Child Pornography and Possession of Child Pornography.  Magrann pled guilty and was sentenced to four years in state prison.      

2016 CASES INVOLVING DIGITAL FORENSICS

State v. Dennis Pozniak

The HTCU assisted in the prosecution of Dennis Pozniak for the murders of Bryan Wilson and Nicole Wilson.  A detective sergeant assigned to the HTCU was qualified as an expert witness in cell phone forensics relating to examinations of the defendant’s cellular telephone.  The detective sergeant provided testimony relating to the forensic examination of the defendant’s cellular telephone and numerous text communications.  Pozniak was found guilty of two counts of Murder and sentenced to 60 years to life in New Jersey state prison. 

State v. Erik Carmona

The HTCU assisted the Evesham Township Police Department in a strict liability death investigation.  The victim overdosed on heroin.  A forensic examination of his cellular telephone revealed the heroin was provided by Erik Carmona.  The HTCU also assisted in mapping out the cell phone records for Erik Carmona’s cell phone provider.  Erik Carmona died on July 8, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a result of a Fentanyl overdose while awaiting trial.   

State v. William Gennett

The HTCU assisted the Major Crimes Unit and Lumberton Township Police Department with investigating the homicide of Shannon O’Rourke.  A forensic examination of the suspect’s cell phone revealed that he had purchased and installed spy monitoring software on the victim’s cell phone.  This software would allow the suspect to remotely view content such as text messages, call logs, emails and social media accounts on the victim’s phone along with the actual GPS location of the device.  William Gennett was indicted by a grand jury and is pending trial. 

State v. Christopher Costello and Bryan Costello

The HTCU assisted the Major Crimes Unit and Lumberton Township Police Department with investigating the homicide of Justin DuBois.   A forensic examination of the suspects’ cell phones revealed that they were attempting to sell numerous belongings of the victims after he was killed.  Christopher Costello and Bryan Costello have been indicted for murder and are awaiting charges. 

State v. Sabrina Givens and Christopher Weldon

The HTCU assisted the Medford Township Police Department regarding a burglary investigation.  Forensic examinations were conducted on two cell phones that were seized as part of this investigation.  The extracted information provided crucial evidence that led to the arrest of two subjects for committing 17 commercial burglaries in five counties.  Sabrina Givens and Christopher Weldon were charged with numerous offenses.

State v. Tiray Jones and Paul Williams

The HTCU assisted the Medford Township Police Department regarding a burglary investigation.  Forensic examinations were conducted on nine devices that were seized as part of this investigation.  The extracted information provided additional evidence that resulted in the arrest of three subjects for committing four commercial burglaries in three counties as well as significant drug and weapons charges.  Tiray Jones and Paul Williams were charged with numerous offenses. 

State v. Francisco Rodriguez, Hugoberto Silverio, Rafael Silverio

The HTCU assisted the Bordentown Township Police Department regarding a theft investigation.  This investigation began as local supermarkets throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania were experiencing an increase in plastic container thefts.  Two suspects were apprehended in the act and cellular phones were secured from their persons.  Forensic examinations of the cell phones revealed GPS location data which was able to tie the suspects to numerous other theft cases.  The analysis of the phones provided by the HTCU not only solved the previous two thefts in Bordentown Township, but also closed cases for multiple other agencies throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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