Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a gym teacher who is head wrestling coach at East Orange Campus High School has been arrested on charges of possession of child pornography and operating a marijuana production facility. While executing a search warrant at the teacher’s home as part of a child pornography investigation, detectives found a major indoor marijuana growing operation with roughly 40 plants. The drug charge is a first-degree offense.
Justin W. Bozinta, 37, of Roselle, who is a physical education teacher at Costley Middle School in East Orange, was arrested Friday, Feb. 13, by the Division of Criminal Justice, assisted by the Roselle Police Department. An investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau revealed that several images of child pornography allegedly were uploaded by Bozinta to a Google+ photo account using a computer located at a school facility. The investigation allegedly linked Bozinta to the email account used to upload the images. The investigation began with a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which indicated that the images were uploaded from an Internet Protocol (IP) address in a school district facility using the email account later traced to Bozinta. Assistance was provided by ICE Homeland Security Investigations, the New Jersey State Police and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
“It’s appalling that a man entrusted with instructing and mentoring young students as a teacher and coach allegedly was dealing drugs and sexually exploiting children by viewing child pornography online,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “For a teacher to engage in those crimes, which drive so much harm and abuse of children, is a shocking betrayal. Fortunately, we were able to uncover the dark side of Bozinta’s life and eliminate the danger he potentially posed to students.”
“Our investigation is ongoing and we will continue to follow all leads to expose the full scope of Bozinta’s alleged drug dealing and involvement with child pornography,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “He already faces a first-degree drug charge carrying a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison, but it is critical that we determine if others were involved and whether his conduct impacted students in the district. We urge anyone with information to contact us confidentially.”
Acting Attorney General Hoffman and Director Honig urged anyone who might have additional information related to this case to contact the Division of Criminal Justice confidentially at its toll-free tip line 1-866-TIPS-4CJ. Additionally, members of the public can log on to the Division of Criminal Justice webpage at www.njdcj.org to report information confidentially.
During execution of the search warrant at Bozinta’s home on Sheridan Avenue in Roselle on Feb. 13, detectives conducted a preliminary examination of an external computer hard drive and allegedly found several images of child pornography. Bozinta currently is charged with third-degree possession of child pornography. Two laptop computers, including a Mac Book Pro issued to Bozinta by the school district, were seized from his home, along with other computer equipment. In addition, a desktop computer to which Bozinta had access in the high school athletic office was turned over to investigators on Feb. 13 in response to a subpoena. All of the computer equipment will be the subject of full forensic examinations at the New Jersey Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory.
While executing the search warrant, detectives found a major “grow room” in Bozinta’s home equipped with a special ventilation system, high-powered lights and chemicals to encourage plant growth. Approximately 40 growing marijuana plants were found, along with packaging materials. The first-degree charge of operating a marijuana production facility carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison, including a mandatory period of parole ineligibility of one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed, and a fine of up to $750,000. The charge applies to production of marijuana if it involves more than five pounds of marijuana or more than 10 marijuana plants. Bozinta also is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute (3rd degree), possession of marijuana within 500 feet of a public park (2nd degree), and possession of marijuana (4th degree).
In addition, Bozinta is charged with second-degree possession of a weapon in the course of committing a drug offense, because numerous guns were seized in his home. The detectives and officers seized seven handguns, four rifles, a shotgun and a homemade silencer. Bozinta was charged with possession of a prohibited device, a fourth-degree offense, in connection with the silencer.
After his arrest, Bozinta was processed at the Roselle Police Headquarters and lodged in the Union County Jail with bail set at $275,000, full cash required.
Bozinta has worked in the East Orange School District since 2000.
The investigation is being conducted for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau by Deputy Attorney General Marie McGovern, Detective Richard DaSilva Jr. and Detective Sgt. Thomas Turley, under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Monahan, who is Bureau Chief, Deputy Attorney General Kenneth Sharpe, who is Deputy Bureau Chief, Lt. Lisa A. Shea and Deputy Chief of Detectives William Fredrick.
Acting Attorney General Hoffman thanked the Roselle Police Department, ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Newark, the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit and Marijuana Eradication Unit, and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office for their valuable assistance.
Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Any sentence imposed for the second-degree charge of possession of a weapon in the course of committing a drug offense must be served consecutively to the sentences imposed for any of the drug offenses. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Because they are indictable offenses, the charges will be presented to a grand jury for potential indictment.