Law enforcement authorities have apprehended a Hamilton Township resident, 31-year-old Nicholas Occhipinti, following an investigation into allegations of online child exploitation.
Occhipinti faces multiple charges, including child pornography-related offenses and narcotics violations.
Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri confirmed that Occhipinti was taken into custody.
Charges against him include one count of second-degree distribution of child pornography, one count of third-degree possession of child pornography, one count of second-degree possession with the intent to distribute child pornography, and three narcotics offenses, among them a first-degree possession with the intent to distribute charge.
In light of the serious nature of these charges, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office has filed a motion to detain Occhipinti pending trial.
The investigation unfolded after the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Unit, prompted by information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, identified an individual in Mercer County engaged in the distribution of child pornography. Detectives initiated the inquiry, leading to the identification of Nicholas Occhipinti as a subject.
On October 6, 2023, members of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations Newark, and the Hamilton Police Division executed search warrants at Occhipinti’s Hamilton residence.
During the operation, detectives seized items of evidentiary value pertinent to the distribution and possession of child pornography.
The prosecutor said a small quantity of methamphetamine, assorted pills, and over 2,000 doses of LSD were also discovered within the residence and Occhipinti was taken into custody without incident during the operation.
The severity of the charges levied against Occhipinti is underscored by the potential legal ramifications. First-degree crimes, such as possession with the intent to distribute narcotics, carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000.
Second-degree crimes, such as the distribution of child pornography, entail a prison term of five to 10 years and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes, including possession of child pornography, come with a prison sentence of three to five years and a fine of up to $15,000.
Onofri encourages anyone with information regarding potential exploitation or improper online contact involving children to contact the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Unit at (609) 989-6568 or the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force tip line at (888) 648-6007.
It is essential to bear in mind that, despite the charges brought against Nicholas Occhipinti, he maintains the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Legal proceedings will continue to ascertain the facts surrounding this case.