After a former Seaside Heights special police officer was indicted on charges for endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly possessing and distributing child pornography, the man was recently sentenced to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison.
This case began in June of 2015, when 24-year-old Seaside Heights resident Kevin Meier was arrested for possession and distribution of child pornography. Meier was serving as a special police officer in the borough of Seaside Heights at the time, after graduating from the Ocean County Police Academy two years earlier. Special police officers are often hired in Jersey Shore towns in the summer months to provide enhanced security while the population density is at its peak.
According to Ocean County authorities, they were alerted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about child pornography being downloaded near Meier’s residence on Sheridan Avenue in Seaside Heights. Members of the High Tech Crimes Unit of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office then traced the downloads and discovered they were occurring in Meier’s home. After executing a search at the Seaside Heights residence, investigators retrieved multiple files containing child pornography.
Charges for Possession and Distribution of Child Pornography
Meier was arrested and charged with multiple counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Specifically, he faced charges for third-degree child pornography possession and second-degree distribution of child pornography. He ultimately accepted a plea offer from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, pleading guilty to the more serious charge for distributing child pornography in exchange for the dismissal of the lesser charge for possessing child porn and the minimum sentence for second degree distribution.
Meier was sentenced to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison in Ocean County Superior Court in Toms River on Wednesday, July 26th. He will also be required to register as a sex offender under New Jersey’s Megan’s Law and will be subject to life-long community supervision. Had he proceeded to trial, Meier would have been exposed to a much longer prison term if he was ultimately convicted.
Endangering the Welfare of a Child in New Jersey
Under New Jersey law, endangering the welfare of a child encompasses a broad range of offenses, including possession and distribution of child pornography. According to the endangering statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4, endangering the welfare of a child is a second degree crime if and when a person “knowingly receives for the purpose of selling or who knowingly sells, procures, manufactures, gives, provides, lends, trades, mails, delivers, transfers, publishes, distributes, circulates, disseminates, presents, exhibits, advertises, offers or agrees to offer, through any means, including the Internet, any photograph, film, videotape, computer program or file, video game or any other reproduction or reconstruction which depicts a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act.”
The sentencing range for a second degree crime in New Jersey is between 5 and 10 years and there is a presumption of incarceration associated with these offenses, which means that even a first-time offender is required to serve time in prison. Since this particular case of child endangerment involved a sex crime, the defendant will also be registered as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.
For additional information related to this case, access the following article: Ex-Seaside Heights special cop gets 5 years for child porn