Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced that a 36-year-old Medford Township man pled guilty in Superior Court to distributing child sexual assault material in exchange for a 10-year sentence in New Jersey state prison.
Stephen Gifford, of Pine Valley Drive, entered a guilty plea on May 5 in Mount Holly to one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Second Degree). Under terms of the agreement reached with the Prosecutor’s Office, he must serve five years of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole. The Hon. Philip E. Haines, J.S.C., scheduled sentencing for August 4.
The investigation began last year after the BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit received information regarding Gifford’s online activities from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The investigation revealed that Gifford shared more than 1,000 images and videos of child sexual assault material. Multiple electronic devices were seized from his residence during the execution of a search warrant. They were later examined by detectives from the BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit and found to contain child sexual assault material.
Gifford was arrested as part of the BCPO’s Operation Safe Quarantine, which targeted those engaged in the online exploitation of children during the pandemic. Charges have been filed against more than 30 individuals since last May for similar and more serious crimes.
Gifford will be prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Weiler. The investigation was conducted by the BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit, with assistance from United States Homeland Security Investigations – Cherry Hill Office, and the Medford Township Police Department. The lead investigator was BCPO Detective Kevin Sobotka.
The Prosecutor’s Office High-Tech Crimes Unit and HSI – Cherry Hill are members of the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The BCPO also belongs to the New Jersey State Police Cyber Terrorism Task Force.
All persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.