16 Arrested For Child Porn In Undercover Operation

Photo courtesy NJ Attorney General's Office

  TRENTON – A police officer, a teacher, and a minister were among 16 men arrested in an undercover operation targeting child predators, announced Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo.

  “Operation Home Alone” was a multi-agency undercover operation targeting men who allegedly used social media to lure underage children for sexual activity. During the operation, the “underage children” were actually undercover officers.

  The child predators traveled to a Bergen County residence where they expected to meet their underage victims home alone and instead found law enforcement ready to arrest them and process any evidence seized. 

  “The 16 men we arrested allegedly used social media to stalk victims they believed were vulnerable children who could be sexually exploited. Fortunately, their victims were really undercover officers prepared to put them in handcuffs,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Parents need to know that the profiles of underage girls and boys we posted on social media to catch these offenders could easily have been profiles of their own children, who might also be targeted by predators on chat apps and popular gaming sites. Our message to parents with Operation Home Alone is be on guard.  Our message to child predators is law enforcement is working overtime to find you and arrest you.”

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  “Operation Home Alone” was led by the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ), Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, and New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which is led by the New Jersey State Police. The ICAC Task Force includes DCJ, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, all 21 County Prosecutors’ Offices, and other state, county and local law enforcement agencies. 

  “Operation Home Alone” arrested these 16 individuals over a five-day period from April 11 through April 15. The defendant who is a police officer, Peter Tuchol Jr., was placed under arrest on April 15 at the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. Thirteen defendants were arrested at the undercover residence in Bergen County  One defendant was arrested at a shopping mall, and the remaining defendant was arrested at his own residence.

  The following 16 men were arrested and will be prosecuted by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office (BCPO) or Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ).

  • Peter Tuchol Jr., 28, of Waldwick, NJ (Girl, 15). Tuchol has been suspended from his position as a police officer with the Ridgewood Police Department. He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree), Attempted Debauching Morals of a Child (3rd degree), Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (anabolic steroids) (3rd degree), Possession of a Prescription Legend Drug (4th degree), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (hypodermic needles) (4th degree).
  • Kevin Roth, 26, Nanuet, NY (Boy, 14) Roth is a teacher at the High School of Computers and Technology in Bronx, NY.  He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree). 
  • Dariush Ghamarnezhad, 37, of Pomona, NY (Girl, 14). Ghamarnezhad is a dental hygienist. He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree).
  • Joel Guichardo, 38, of Passaic, NJ (Girl, 14). Guichardo is a barbershop owner. He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree), Attempted Debauching Morals of a Child (3rd degree).  BCPO is prosecuting.
  • Larry Noel Jr., 43, of Stanhope, NJ (Boy, 14). Noel is a warehouse worker. He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree), Attempted Debauching Morals of a Child (3rd degree). 
  • Shaheen Lariff, 49, of New City, NY (Boy, 15). Lariff is a bank branch office manager.  He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree).
  • Rajan Lama, 33, Woodside, NY.(Girl, 14). Lama is a driver for a rideshare company.  He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Criminal Sexual Contact (2nd & 4th degree), Attempted Debauching Morals of a Child (3rd degree). 
  • Luis Gonzalez Palacio, 36, of Weehawkin, NJ (Boy, 14). Gonzalez Palacio is a finance lead for a major internet service provider. Palacio allegedly had more than 13,000 suspected files of child pornography on his phone when he was arrested. He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree). 
  • Roger Arroyo, 37, of Philadelphia (Girl, 14). Arroyo is a traveling minister. He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Debauching Morals of a Child (3rd degree), Attempted Criminal Sexual Contact (4th degree). 
  • Yosef Kriger, 31, of New City, NY (Girl, 14). Kriger is a pharmaceuticals delivery driver. He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree), Attempted Debauching Morals of a Child (3rd degree).
  • Michael Mancini, 36, of Hawthorne, NJ (Girl, 14). Mancini is a supermarket employee and DJ. He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree), Attempted Debauching Morals of a Child (3rd degree). 
  • Teodoro Alvarez Ortega, 28, of Suffern, NY (Boy, 14). Avarez Ortega is a restaurant server. He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree), Attempted Debauching Morals of a Child (3rd degree), Attempted Showing Obscene Material to a Minor (3rd degree).
  • Jacob Smith, 26, of New Rochelle, NY (Girl, 14). Smith is a takeout food delivery driver.  He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree), Attempted Debauching Morals of a Child (3rd degree), Attempted Showing Obscene Material to a Minor (3rd degree).
  • Jose Martinez, 47, of Fairview, NJ (Boy, 14). Martinez is a takeout food delivery driver.  He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree), Attempted Debauching Morals of a Child (3rd degree). 
  • Jason Keizer, 33, of Garfield, NJ (Girl, 14). Keizer is unemployed. He is charged with Attempted Debauching Morals of a Child (3rd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).  Keizer is currently awaiting sentencing on a prior child pornography charge filed by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. 
  • Hareshkum Tailor, 55, Garfield, NJ (Girl, 14). Tailor is a driver for a rideshare company.  He is charged with Luring (2nd degree), Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree). 

  Undercover officers who conducted the chats with these defendants were specially trained members of the ICAC Task Force. The operation used social media platforms including Kik, Skout, Grindr, Tinder, MeetMe, and Adam4Adam. Past cases used apps such as Kik, Skout, Grindr, Whisper, Omegle, Tinder, Chat Avenue, Chat Roulette, Wishbone, Live.ly, Musical.ly, Paltalk, Yubo, Hot or Not, Down, and Tumblr to make arrests. Arrests also have been made involving the gaming apps Fortnite, Minecraft, and Discord. 

  Once chatting began, the undercover officers clearly identified themselves as underage girls or boys and the defendants allegedly engaged the “children” in conversations about sex and made arrangements to meet the “children” for sex.

  “Parents need to be aware of their children’s activities on the internet, and if children appear anxious or evasive when this topic is raised, it may be a red flag,” said Attorney General Grewal.  “It is critical that parents talk to their children about social media and chat apps to let them know that the people they encounter may not be who they initially seem to be.”

  The defendants were lodged in the Bergen County Jail until detention hearings were held during the past week. One defendant, Michael Mancini, was ordered detained in jail pending trial. The remaining defendants were released subject to stringent pre-trial monitoring conditions.

  Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three of five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.  Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

  “Operation Home Alone is a great example of our collaborative efforts to guard children from the ever-present danger of online predators,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice.  “We will continue to partner with the State Police, the County Prosecutors, the ICAC Task Force, HSI, the FBI, and law enforcement at all levels to apprehend these sex offenders who exploit the anonymity of social media to prey on those who are most vulnerable.”