Saturday, August 8 2020

High Tech Crimes / Forensic Unit

The High-Tech Crimes and Digital Forensics Unit 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, the unit examines devices connected to offenses involving the exploitation of children, network intrusion, hacking and DNS attacks. The unit is staffed by two Detectives and a Detective Sergeant, who is the investigative Supervisor.

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 High-Tech Crimes/Digital Forensics Unit has assisted the various units of the Prosecutor’s Office, 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 2018, the High-Tech Crimes/Digital Forensics Unit assisted in 680 digital forensic examinations, on over 485 different pieces of evidence, to include computers, digital cameras, USB flash drives, cellular telephones, small scale digital devices, tablet, GPS devices, Digital Video recorder (DVR) systems and Vehicular Infotainment systems.

The High-Tech Crimes Unit conducted 11 Internet Safety Presentations, relating to Basic Internet Safety, Cyberbullying and Sexting. The presentations were mainly to students at various schools throughout Burlington County. Some presentations were to parents and also as part of the Burlington County Sheriff’s Youth Police Academy.

SIGNIFICANT CASES PROSECUTED IN 2018

STATE V. DONOVAN BALTHAZOR

As part of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office initiated an investigation based upon a cyber tip report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) regarding the uploading of child sexual abuse files to a Google Gmail account associated with Donovan Balthazor. The IP address that was used to upload the images came back to a residence in Pemberton Township.

The High-Tech Crimes Unit obtained multiple court orders for email addresses associated with Balthazor which revealed he was actively trading child pornography with others and portraying himself as a juvenile female.   A search warrant was ultimately served at the residence by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, with the assistance of the New Jersey State Police – Digital Technology Investigation Unit, the United State Air Force – Office of Special Investigations, United States Homeland Security Investigations and the Pemberton Township Police Department. Donovan Balthazor was located at work in Joint Base MDL and taken into custody. Donovan Balthazor pled to one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Porn). Balthazor is pending sentencing. The case was investigated by Detective Sergeant Dave Kohler.

STATE V. ROBERT SOUTH

As part of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office initiated an investigation based upon a cyber tip report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) regarding the uploading of child sexual abuse files to a Microsoft OneDrive account associated with Robert South. The IP address that was used to upload the images came back to a residence in Southampton Township.

The High-Tech Crimes Unit obtained multiple court orders for email addresses and cloud storage associated with South which revealed he possessed a large quantity of child pornography. A search warrant was ultimately served at the residence by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, with the assistance of the New Jersey State Police – Digital Technology Investigation Unit and Red Lion Barracks, and United States Homeland Security Investigations. Robert South was charged with Possession of Child Pornography. He has been indicted by a Grand Jury for Possession of Child Pornography over 1000 files but less than 100,000. The case was investigated by Det. Jennifer Appelmann.

STATE V. ALAN BERMAN

As part of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office initiated an investigation based upon a cyber tip report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) regarding juvenile male from Arkansas who was chatting online with an adult male, later identified as Alan Berman. The tip related that Berman was asking the 15-year-old to send nude images of himself and that the adult male was possibly a police officer. Berman was employed as a Campus Security Officer at Rider University and also a volunteer fire captain in his hometown of Bordentown City.

Communication Data Warrants were obtained for Berman’s Liveme account, which revealed he was chatting online with numerous individuals who were believed to be underage.

A search warrant was ultimately served at a residence in Bordentown City by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, with the assistance of the New Jersey State Police – Digital Technology Investigation Unit, United States Homeland Security Investigations and the Bordentown City Police Department. Detectives were able to obtain a confession from Berman relating to the child pornography as well as admitting to ownership of the Liveme account.

Based upon the arrest, several parents reached out to law enforcement regarding their children spending a lot time and sleeping over at Berman’s residence. Over the course of the following two weeks, 7 juvenile males ranging from 12-15 years old were interviewed at the Child Advocacy Center. Several of the males disclosed sexual contact by Berman, allowed access to a Firearm and were provided with Marijuana.

Berman was ultimately charged with 11 additional counts to include Sexual Assault, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and Obscenity to a Minor. Berman pled guilty to an accusation of Possession of Child Pornography over 1000 files and Endangering the Welfare of a Child and is pending sentencing. The case was investigated by Det. Kevin Sobotka.

STATE V. HOWARD IRIZARRY

As part of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office initiated a proactive investigation based upon an individual using a Peer-2-Peer file sharing program to distribute Child Pornography. The IP address came back to a residence in Maple Shade Township.

The High-Tech Crimes Unit obtained a search warrant for a residence in Maple Shade Township to seize and search diverse electronic devices. A search warrant was ultimately served at the residence by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, with the assistance of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit, United States Homeland Security Investigations and the Maple Shade Township Police Department. A forensic examination of the digital items seized was conducted by the High-Tech Crimes Unit, who ultimately located thousands of child sexual abuse images and videos on devices utilized by Howard Irizarry.

Irizarry was charged with Distribution of Child Pornography, Possession of Child Pornography with Intent to Distribute, Use of a File Sharing Program to Store Child Pornography and Possession of Child Pornography. Irizarry pled guilty to an accusation of Distribution of Child Pornography and is pending sentencing. The case was investigated by Detective Sergeant Dave Kohler.

STATE V. JEREMY BECKER

In September 2017, the High-Tech Crimes Unit was requested to conduct a Cyber related investigation, based upon a conflict of interest out of Moorestown Police Department.   The target of the investigation was Jeremy Becker, who had been arrested by Moorestown police for Bias Intimidation and Cyber-Harassment of a family residing in Moorestown.

After this arrest, Becker then turned his harassment towards members of the Moorestown Police Department, to include the arresting officer and the chief of police and continued the harassment to the family in Moorestown.

Becker was ultimately arrested on seven total charges to include second degree Filing of False Reports to Incriminate Another. Becker ultimately pled guilty to the charges in exchange for a five-year term in New Jersey state prison.

Upon being released, as the sentence was suspended, Becker immediately started with his harassment again. Law enforcement was able to obtain search warrants for his residence along with his parents. Becker was arrested at his residence and was served with additional charges of cyber-harassment and contempt. Becker was indicted by a grand jury on numerous charges relating to this case, which was investigated by Det. Kevin Sobotka.

 

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