Former Vineland teacher gets 17 years for creating child pornography
A former Vineland elementary schoolteacher was sentenced to 17 years in prison for creating child pornography by hiding a camera in restrooms at a theater camp to record underage boys. Thomas Guzzi Jr., 40, must serve at least 10 years before he is eligible for parole ineligibility. He also must register as a Megan’s Law sex offender, and will be subject to parole supervision for life. Guzzi pleaded guilty in July, to official misconduct, manufacturing child pornography and distribution of 25 or more files of child pornography. Guzzi formerly taught fifth grade at Winslow Elementary School and was an advisor and stage manager for youth productions at the school and the Broadway Theatre of Pitman. He is now permanently barred from public employment. “Guzzi used his positions as a teacher and a stage manager at a summer theater camp to violate the privacy and innocence of children entrusted to his care,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. “This lengthy prison sentence sends a strong message that we will aggressively prosecute predators like Guzzi who harm and sexually exploit children.” While teaching a summer program in Vineland, Guzzi took a photo of a boy exposing his genitals, he admitted in court. He also admitted that he captured images and videos of teenage boys urinating in restrooms at the summer theater camp in Pitman. Guzzi said he manufactured child pornography with the footage, creating a music video of one boy that had images and video of the boy urinating edited together with video recordings of him dancing in rehearsals for the summer musical production. “In this case, what started with the arrest of a child pornography offender in a multi-defendant sweep led to evidence of manufacturing of child pornography and criminal conduct against children this defendant supervised,” said Veronica Allende, director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “This case illustrates why, in all of our cyber investigations involving child pornography, we look at all of the evidence found on electronic devices and pursue every lead to uncover any criminal conduct and potential victims. This prison sentence is a testament to the thorough work of our multi-agency investigative team.” Guzzi was arrested in 2016 in “Operation Safeguard,” a child pornography sweep conducted by the Attorney General’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, and the New Jersey State Police. Guzzi had hundreds of files of child pornography on computers seized from his home during execution of a search warrant on Feb. 19, 2016. He was terminated by the school district and his teaching license was revoked after his arrest. “Child pornography robs children of their innocence and further exploits them when these images are shared online,” said Jeff Kocher, Resident Agent in Charge, Cherry Hill Homeland Security Investigations. “HSI will continue to aggressively pursue these child predators and work as in this case with other law enforcement partners.” During Operation Safeguard, special agents of Homeland Security Investigations and detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice and New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit monitored online file-sharing networks that are popular with offenders who download and share child pornography. Using advanced technology, the investigators searched for digital “fingerprints” of known child pornography, as well as search terms used by such offenders. Through these and other methods, they identified New Jersey residents who were downloading child pornography and making child pornography available to others in “shared folders” on their computers.