FREEHOLD – A Monmouth County grand jury has returned a three-count indictment against a West Long Branch man accused of being in possession of cocaine, having child sexual abuse files stored on a drive connected with his email address, and videotaping himself while masturbating in a local park, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Friday.
Michael K. Russo, 51, is charged with third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child via Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material, third-degree Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, and fourth-degree Lewdness.
Russo was among more than a dozen people arrested since April as the result of 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. In this case, the investigation, initiated by a referral from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), revealed that Russo had uploaded several dozen digital files constituting child sexual abuse material to his Google Drive over the span of about nine months in 2019.
Additional evidence recovered during the course of the investigation served as the basis for the two additional charges; according to the evidence, Russo allegedly exposed himself while at a public park in Asbury Park on or around July 25, 2019.
The Monmouth County ICAC Task Force includes members of the following police departments: Bradley Beach, Eatontown, Howell, Long Branch, Manalapan, Marlboro, Neptune Township, Spring Lake, Tinton Falls, Keyport, Keansburg, Belmar, Holmdel, and Red Bank; the Task Force also receives investigative support from the police departments in Long Branch, Colts Neck, Highlands, Hazlet, Howell, Union Beach, Keansburg, Red Bank, West Long Branch, Ocean Township, Freehold Township, and Freehold Borough, as well as the New Jersey State Police (Hamilton Barracks).
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This case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan. Russo is being represented by Joshua Hood, Esq., with an office in Freehold.
Anyone with information about Russo’s activities is being asked to contact MCPO Detective Michael Arduini at 1-800-533-7443.
Convictions on charges of this nature are punishable by up to five years in state prison, as well as the defendant being registered under Megan’s Law and assigned parole supervision for life.
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.