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Pedophile Roundup: Feds Bust 15 NJ, PA Men With Child Porn, Trying To Have Sex With Teens

Authorities announced the arrests of 15 men on child sex and pornography charges during "Operation Safe Quarantine II."
Authorities announced the arrests of 15 men on child sex and pornography charges during "Operation Safe Quarantine II." Photo Credit: Burlington County Prosecutor's Office

A youth pastor who manufactured child porn. A 35-year-old man who tried to have sex with a 13-year-old girl.

A 40-year-old man who secretly recorded a naked girl, then send out the material.

These are only three men of the 15 busted on child porn and other more serious charges, in the second phase of a massive quarantine-driven operation in South Jersey, authorities said (scroll down for a complete rundown of each individual charged).

The 15 arrests come are part of "Operation Safe Quarantine II," which ran from August 2020 through January 2021, and fueled by an increase of in threatening online activity toward children, according to Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina.

The investigations during both phases were spearheaded by the BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit, with assistance from the Cinnaminson Township Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New Jersey State Police and United States Homeland Security Investigations – Cherry Hill Office.

The following individuals were charged:

Jason McCann, 35,  of Blackwood, was charged August 12, 2020 with Luring, Attempted Obscenity of a Minor and Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child. McCann believed he was sending pictures of his genitals and videos of himself masturbating to a 13-year-old girl, but the actual recipient was a Special Agent of United States Homeland Security Investigations. He attempted to arrange a meeting at a park in Bordentown Township to have sex with the girl.

Mark Garagozzo, 31, Ambler, Pennsylvania, was charged September 10, 2020 with Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Second Degree). Garagozzo is accused of Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material. Garagozzo was arrested in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2020 with the assistance of the United States Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia Field Office and the Ambler Police Department.

Frank Gibson, 72, of Tabernacle, was charged September 24, 2020 with Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Third Degree). Gibson is charged with Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material, including images of infants and toddlers.

Juvenile Male, 17, from Willingboro, was charged September 30, 2020 with Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Third Degree). He is charged with Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material.

Douglas Harper, 53, of Marlton, was charged October 2, 2020 with four counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (three are Second Degree and one is Third Degree). Harper is charged with Distribution, Possession with the Intent to Distribute, Use of File Sharing Software and Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material.

Trevor Brown, 34, of Marlton, was charged October 15, 2020 with two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (one is Second Degree and one is Third Degree). Brown is charged with Distributing and Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material.

David Epps Jr., 34, of Medford, was charged October 21, 2020 with two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (one is Second Degree and one is Third Degree). Epps Jr. is charged with Distributing and Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material.

Sean Higgins, 30, of Palmyra, was charged October 29, 2020 with a total of 28 crimes. He held the position of youth pastor at Harbor Baptist Church, and also served as a teacher at the Harbor Baptist Academy. Higgins was charged with six counts of Manufacturing Child Sexual Abuse Material (First Degree), one count of Aggravated Sexual Assault (First Degree), five counts of Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material (Second Degree), one count of Sexual Assault (Second Degree), six counts of Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material (Third Degree), six counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Third Degree), and one count each of Criminal Sexual Contact (Fourth Degree), Obstruction (Fourth Degree) and Contempt (Fourth Degree). The investigation into additional victims within the State of New Jersey and throughout the United States is ongoing. (The BCPO issued a separate release on this case).

Stephen Gifford, 36, of Medford, was charged November 2, 2020 with two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (two are First Degree, one is Second Degree and one is Third Degree). Gifford is charged with Distributing and Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material.

Bryan Bereza, 40, of Pemberton Borough, was charged December 2, 2020 with six counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (one is First Degree, four are Second Degree and one is Third Degree) and Invasion of Privacy (Third Degree). Bereza is charged with Manufacturing, Distributing, Possession with the Intent to Distribute, Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material, Endangering the Welfare of a Child by Impairing or Debauching the Morals of a Child, and Invasion of Privacy by secretly recording an underage female while she was nude and then sending the images to other individuals. On December 3, 2020, Bereza was additionally charged with Sexual Assault by Sexual Contact (Second Degree), three counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (one is First Degree and two are Second Degree) and Invasion of Privacy (Third Degree).

David Bucci, 43, of Burlington City, was charged December 22, 2020 with four counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (two are Second Degree and two are Third Degree). Bucci is charged with Distributing, Possession with the intent to Distribute, Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material and being the Leader of a Network for Distributing Child Sexual Abuse Material.

Juvenile Male, 16, from Medford, was charged January 14, 2021 with Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Third Degree). He is charged with Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material.

Mihir Patel, 25, of Mount Laurel, was charged January 15, 2021 with Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a child (Third Degree) and Attempted Obscenity to a Minor (Third Degree). Patel sent pictures of his genitals to a person he thought was a 10-year-old girl, but the actual recipient was a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Zachary Snider, 20, of Mount Laurel, was charged January 25, 2021 with one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Third Degree). Snider is charged with Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material.

Azan Babar, 18, of Willingboro, was charged January 27, 2021 with three counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (two are Second Degree and one is Third Degree). Babar is charged with Distribution, Possession with Intent to Distribute and Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material. Babar was caught selling online links of Child Sexual Abuse Material to other individuals.

The cases are being prepared for presentation to a grand jury for possible indictment, and the defendants will be prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutors Joseph Remy and Jennifer Weiler.

Ten individuals were arrested on similar charges over a two-month period ending in July 2020 during the first phase of the operation. Seven of those individuals have pleaded guilty in Superior Court, Coffina said.

The BCPO HTCU conducts investigations into crimes that involve the use of high-end technology such as computers, cellular telephones, telecommunications equipment and other advanced methods.

BCPO Detective Sergeant Dave Kohler led the investigations of McCann, Gibson, Epps Jr. and the Willingboro juvenile, while BCPO Detective Jennifer Appelmann was the lead investigator on the cases against Brown, Bereza, Snider and Babar. 

BCPO Detective Kevin Sobotka was the lead investigator on the cases involving Harper, Gifford, Bucci and Patel. Garagozzo, Higgins and the juvenile from Medford were investigated by a Cinnaminson Township police officer who is presently assigned to the High-Tech Crimes Unit.

The BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit, the Cinnaminson Township Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Homeland Security Investigations – Cherry Hill Office are members of the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.

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