Area attorney accused in child pornography ring may get probation

28 Sep 2011 | 03:04

    Sparta - A Sparta attorney charged with downloading what authorities called “hardcore child pornography” may receive probation, prosecutors said this week. Jeffrey Patti, 37, was one of 39 people arrested in a January sweep that resulted from the largest child pornography investigation in state history. All 39 were charged with possession and/or distribution of child pornography, which included a video clip involving a Georgia man, who was also later arrested. Patti, a married father of two young girls, appeared in Superior Court in Newton for a hearing this week before Judge Thomas Critchley Jr., but the meeting was adjourned until Jan. 9, 2006. Patti may be eligible for the state’s pretrial intervention program, which is granted to first-time, non-violent offenders. If Patti were to complete PTI successfully, which might include fines and community service, his criminal record would remain unblemished. The former chairman of the Sparta Republican Committee, who resigned the post after his arrest, had practiced law at his father’s firm in the township. Following his arrest, Patti proclaimed his innocence and entered a not-guilty plea to the charges. Distributing and receiving pornography, a second-degree offense, can carry a 5-10-year sentence in state prison. The Georgia man in the video is now serving a 45-year sentence in a Georgia prison on counts of child molestation and rape. “The content is sick, our detectives have seen it,” said Col. Joseph “Rick” Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, at the time of the arrests, which were made after state officials received a tip from the Wyoming Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Wyoming officials had used advanced software to trace images of child pornography to computer addresses in New Jersey that received or offered to circulate the pornography. At the time of the arrests, authorities emphasized that the computer files, which included still images and videos, were shared and said those arrested “knowingly downloaded” the images. They didn’t receive them by accident, officials said. “Mistaken downloads were weeded out,” said Fuentes. State officials also used state-of-the-art technology to retrieve deleted files from seized computers.