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TRENTON – A local man pleaded guilty to using a chat app to distribute images and videos of child sexual abuse, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

  Michael A. Ruggiero, 37, of Forked River, admitted his role in the spread of the child pornography before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court. 

  Ruggiero used a mobile chat application to share images and videos of child sexual abuse in April of 2016. Some of the children depicted were younger than 12. Through the app, he also received additional depictions until his arrest in June of 2017. He had been employed as a corrections officer.

  The charge of distributing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 3, 2019.

  The U.S. Attorney credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Michael; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel B. Brubaker, Philadelphia Division; and members of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer, with the investigation leading to the plea.