Tren­ton cop ad­mits to child porn charge, gives up job

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS - By Isaac Avilucea iav­ilucea@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @IsaacAvilucea on Twit­ter

TREN­TON » City cop Paul Marinelli ded­i­cated his life to lock­ing up crim­i­nals. Now he is one. Marinelli also can no longer call him­self a cop af­ter he was en­snared and pleaded guilty to a felony charge re­lated to a huge statewide bust of child sex preda­tors.

His plea deal re­quires he give up his job on Tren­ton Po­lice force but doesn’t re­quire him to do any hard state prison time.

And if he has it his way, Marinelli, 53, of Ge­orge’s Road in South Brunswick, won’t spend a day in a county jail.

The now-ex Tren­ton cop ad­mit­ted Fri­day to a third­de­gree charge of pos­ses­sion of child pornog­ra­phy as part of a plea pact with pros­e­cu­tors, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the state At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice.

How­ever, his at­tor­ney, David Schroth, told The Tren­to­nian his client ac­tu­ally pleaded guilty to a child en­dan­ger­ment charge.

He said Marinelli takes re­spon­si­bil­ity for his ac­tions and is pay­ing a “heavy price.”

“He deeply re­grets what he has done here,” the Ewing-based at­tor­ney said.

Tired of their feet-drag­ging, a judge pre­vi­ously warned pros­e­cu­tors he would dis­miss the trou­bled cop’s case this month if they didn’t move on it. Pros­e­cu­tors said they were still wait­ing on foren­sic re­sults.

The 22-year Tren­ton vet­eran cop’s guilty plea amounted to a sud­den about-face af­ter he ini­tially pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He had been sus­pended with­out pay since his ar­rest last Septem­ber as part of a mas­sive crack­down known as “Op­er­a­tion Safety Net,” which ended up with 79 peo­ple in shack­les.

The sweet­heart deal ham­mered out be­tween Marinelli and pros­e­cu­tors re­quires he for­feit his job with Tren­ton Po­lice as pros­e­cu­tors will also seek to put him be­hind bars at the county jail for up to six months.

Marinelli al­ready has enough years in the force to re­tire early. And the agree­ment didn’t say any­thing about his pen­sion ben­e­fits be­ing taken away.

His at­tor­ney con­firmed “we in­tend to seek pen­sion” ben­e­fits and he will also ask the judge to waive any jail sen­tence and put Marinelli on pro­ba­tion.

The ex cop didn’t ad­mit to a crime that re­quires him to reg­is­ter as a sex of­fender un­der Me­gan’s Law, Schroth said.

He noted Marinelli’s ser­vice as a cop and Iraq war vet­eran span­ning more than three decades.

The ex-cop spent his “en­tire work­ing life on the front lines try­ing to make our city safer and all of our lives bet­ter,” Schroth said.

But be­hind closed doors, Marinelli tried to keep the pub­lic from know­ing his dirty lit­tle se­cret.

His dou­ble life didn’t stay un­der wraps for too long.

In Septem­ber of last year, de­tec­tives raided Marinelli’s home and seized three lap­tops and USB flash and thumb drives.

He was found with 15 im­ages in his email ac­count that “de­picted pre­pubescent” girls from in­fants to 12-year-olds “nude or in­volved is sex acts,” ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint ob­tained by The Tren­to­nian, in­clud­ing at least one de­pict­ing a young girl hav­ing sex with a man.

Au­thor­i­ties also un­cov­ered three kid­die porn videos while scour­ing the de­vices, the AG’s of­fice said.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view with de­tec­tives Sept. 6 at the Ewing Town­ship Po­lice head­quar­ters, Marinelli only ad­mit­ted to us­ing his email ac­count to send him­self child porn im­ages.

How­ever, no ev­i­dence was un­cov­ered that sug­gested Marinelli dis­trib­uted the child porn to oth­ers which could have ex­posed him to po­ten­tial sex of­fender regis­tra­tion.

He is set for sen­tenc­ing Oct. 26.

Paul Marinelli

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