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Aug 11, 2022

MCPO/ICAC Task Force Investigations Yield 14 Arrests and Two Sentencing

John V. Catalano, of Freehold Twp

A series of investigations led by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit and the Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force has resulted in the arrests of 14 individuals since January 2022 and also two recent sentencings, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Thursday.

The majority of these investigations originated via CyberTips that were forwarded to our office by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which revealed that these defendants used social media platforms to possess child sexual abuse material. The following individuals have been criminally charged with the following:

  • Earl Grant, 40, of Neptune, was arrested on January 21, 2022 and is charged with one count of third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Grant is represented by Guillermo Arango, Esq. of New Brunswick.
  • Michael Hernandez, 21, of Colts Neck, was arrested on February 24, 2022, and is charged with one count of third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Hernandez is represented by Mark Bernstein, Esq. of Cherry Hill.
  • Stephen Galiatsatos, 38, Neptune Township, who was employed as a ride share driver, was arrested on March 10, 2022, and is charged with one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Galiatsatos is represented by Anthony Aldorasi, Esq. of Freehold.
  • Jeffery Hitt, 74, of Middletown, who is retired, was arrested on March 21, 2022, and is charged with one count of third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials) and one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Hitt is represented by Tara Breslow, Esq. of Freehold.
  • Michael Mezzina, 61, of Holmdel Township, was arrested on March 29, 2022, after the Holmdel Township Police Department received a report from an electronics store employee that child sexual abuse materials were found on a laptop computer that Mezzina dropped off for repair. Mezzina was charged with one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Mezzina is represented by Abraham Basch, Esq. of Eatontown.
  • William Grimmer, 58, of Ocean Township, was arrested on April 21, 2022 and charged with third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Grimmer is represented by Albert Rescinio, Esq. of Ocean Township.
  • Yang Chen, 27, of Aberdeen Township, was arrested on April 14, 2022 and is charged with one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Chen is represented by Carlos Diaz – Cobo, Esq. of Freehold.
  • Ryan Cutaneo, 22, of Howell, was arrested on April 28, 2022, and is charged with one count of third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Cutaneo is represented by Thomas Huth, Esq of Red Bank.
  • Calvin Martinez, 31, of Ocean Township, was arrested on May 12, 2022 and is charged with one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Martinez is represented by Peter O’Mara, Esq.
  • Santiago Reyes-Carrada, 30, of Keyport, was arrested on May 5, 2022 and is charged with one count of third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Reyes-Carrada is represented by Mark Casazza, Esq. of Hazlet
  • Brian Flynn, 31, of Hazlet, a sales representative, was arrested on May 24, 2022; following an investigation which revealed that he used Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing software to create child pornography files available to others online. Flynn is charged with one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, second-degree (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials) and one count of third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Flynn is represented by Mitch Ansell, Esq. of Ocean Township.
  • Kenneth Ayala, 21, of Hazlet Township, was arrested on May 25, 2022 and is charged with one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Ayala is represented by William Wackowski, Esq. of Ocean Township.
  • Osama Hassaballa, 37, of Ocean Township, a taxi driver, was arrested on June 9, 2022, and is charged with one count of third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Hassaballa is represented by Lisa Maglone, Esq. of Freehold.
  • Brian Picardi, 60, of Keansburg, who was arrested on June 16, 2022 and is charged with one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Child Sexual Abuse Materials). Picardi is represented by Lisa Maglone, Esq. of Freehold.

These investigations were referred from the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The MCPO has been an affiliate member of ICAC since 2020.

The Monmouth County ICAC Task Force includes members of the MCPO and the following police departments: Aberdeen, Belmar, Bradley Beach, Eatontown, Fair Haven, Highlands, Holmdel, Howell, Keyport, Manalapan, Marlboro, Middletown, Ocean Township, Red Bank, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, Tinton Falls, Wall and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations; the Task Force also receives investigative support from the police departments in Colts Neck, Highlands, Hazlet, Howell, Union Beach, Neptune, Keansburg, Red Bank, West Long Branch, Ocean Township, as well as members from the New Jersey Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory.

From the beginning of 2020 to present, approximately 550 CyberTips have resulted in a total of 77 arrests in Monmouth County.

Convictions on second-degree charges of this nature are punishable by up to 10 years in state prison; convictions on third-degree charges of this nature are punishable by up to five years. Either would also result in defendants being registered under Megan’s Law and assigned Parole Supervision for life.

Galiatsatos, Chen and Ayala’s cases are assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Kristen Anastos; and the remaining cases are assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Competello.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

Acting Prosecutor Linskey would also like to announce the sentencings of two defendants, both taking place on Friday July 29, 2022.

John V. Catalano, 36, of Nottingham Way in Freehold, was sentenced to five years in a New Jersey State Prison for second-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child – Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials, in front of Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Jill G. O’Malley, to include two and a half years mandatory parole ineligibility and mandatory Megan’s Law registration. Catalano pleaded guilty to the second-degree charge on February 9, 2022.

Catalano was indicted on September 9, 2019 and charged with one count of second-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child for distributing over 25 images of child sexual abuse materials and one count of third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child for possession of child sexual abuse materials. The Indictments were returned following an investigation by the MCPO ICAC Task Force.

The case was handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan. Catalano is represented by Herbert I. Ellis, Esq., of Freehold.

Barton Cross-Tierney 2nd, of Ocean Twp

The second sentencing, involved Barton Cross-Tierney 2nd, 32, of Ocean Township, in front of Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Jill G. O’Malley, where he received three years for third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child and three years for third-degree Exhibiting Obscenity to a Minor. These two sentences will run concurrently. Upon release, Cross-Tierney faces mandatory Megan’s Law registration and Parole Supervision for Life. Cross-Tierney pleaded guilty to the two charges on February 9, 2022.

Throughout 2018, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office received multiple Cybertips regarding a user on Discord (an online chat platform that allows for text exchanges, voice communications and video chats) engaging in inappropriate conversations with underage girls.  In December 2018, a juvenile female contacted the FBI tipline and reported that she had engaged in an inappropriate online relationship with an adult male from Ocean, NJ, with the Discord username “Barton Cross.” An investigation revealed that Barton Cross committed sexual acts while in a video chat with the juvenile victim. Further investigation revealed the Barton Cross was in communication with another juvenile victim on Discord. He also engaged in sexual acts while in a video chat with that juvenile victim.

A subsequent investigation conducted by members of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit, the Ocean Township Police department, members of the ICAC Task Force, and the FBI determined “Barton Cross” to be Barton C. Cross-Tierney, of Franklin Parkway in Ocean Township.

The case was handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan. Cross-Tierney is represented by Michael L. Kuhns, Esq. of Lawrence Township.