Afterschool Program Employee Indicted for Producing, Receiving, Distributing, and Possessing Child Pornography
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and George Venizelos, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced that Rene Cardona, a former employee of an afterschool program in the Bronx, was indicted today on two counts of production of child pornography, two counts of receiving and distributing child pornography, and one count of possessing child pornography. Cardona, who was previously arrested on April 30, 2014, has been detained since his arrest.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, “Crimes involving the alleged exploitation of children are always distressing, but they are especially so where, as here, the defendant was entrusted to work with and mentor children.”
FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said, “As alleged, during various times between 2011 and 2014, Cardona repeatedly exploited and jeopardized the well-being of innocent children. It is particularly disturbing when a crime like this is committed by an individual like Cardona who is entrusted to care for our children. Cardona’s acts are inexcusable, and together with our law enforcement partners, the FBI remains committed to vigorously investigating and bringing to justice those who prey upon and harm our youngest members of society.”
According to the Indictment and the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court:
In February 2014, Cardona engaged in multiple chats over the Internet with an 11-year-old male located in Guam. In those chats, Cardona, who was aware of the victim’s age, induced the youth to take sexually explicit photographs of himself and to send the photographs to Cardona. Cardona also sent sexually explicit photographs of himself to the youth.
Cardona, 22, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for each count of production of child pornography. For each count of receipt and distribution of child pornography, Cardona faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and for the one count of possession of child pornography, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
For information about the status of these federal criminal proceedings, victims may call the Victim Witness Coordinator for the United States Attorney’s Office at (866) 874-8900.
Cardona is believed to have worked at the Betances summer camp and afterschool programs in the Bronx from 2012 to approximately 2014 and thereafter as a mentor for youths at the Youth Men’s Initiative at Betances Community Center from January to April 2014. Cardona is also believed to have worked as a volunteer at the Betances Community Center at various times starting in 2011. As alleged in the federal criminal complaintCardona admitted to having had inappropriate sexual contact with children, including children he had encountered through these programs.
Persons with information about children with whom Cardona may have had inappropriate sexual contact, or from whom he may have solicited sexually explicit images or videos, are urged to contact the FBI hotline established for this investigation at (212) 384-1600, as well as the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Sex Crimes Hotline at (212) 335-9373. The Manhattan Child Advocacy Center is available to provide services to children who may be victims of Cardona’s conduct, including both inappropriate sexual contact and sexually explicit images. The Manhattan Child Advocacy Center can provide information about obtaining immediate medical treatment, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and mental health counseling. The Manhattan Child Advocacy Center can be contacted at Manhattan Child Advocacy Center at 1753 Park Avenue New York in New York, 10035, (646) 695-6100.
The investigation and prosecution of Cardona’s conduct relating to production and distribution of child pornography is being handled by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. The investigation of Cardona’s conduct relating to inappropriate sexual contact with youths is being handled by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Mr. Bharara thanked and praised the investigative work of the FBI and the New York City Police Department in this matter, as well as the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Andrew DeFilippis is in charge of prosecution.
The charges and allegations contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.