Two years to the day after child pornography was found on a thumb drive linked to him, Josue Rivera, 39, better known as artist Justiniano to comics readers, has admitted to the crime.
Rivera was arrested in May 2011 and charged with illegal possession of child pornography in the second degree after an investigation by the police department in Bridgeport, Connecticut, that began July 16, 2010. The pending case detail listing on the State of Connecticut’s judicial branch website indicates Rivera has pleaded guilty to the charge after original pleaded not guilty. His sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 5, according to the website.
The charge arose after images depicting child pornography were discovered on a thumb drive that had been provided to the staff of a funeral home that was handling Rivera’s father’s funeral arrangements. The USB thumb drive was provided to the business to allow its staff to prepare a memorial slide show for the funeral service. Court documents indicate it was Rivera’s sister who provided the funeral home with the thumb drive, but presumably, the investigation linked the thumb drive to the artist, best known in the comics industry for his work on various DC super-hero titles, such as Beast Boy, Day of Vengeance, Countdown to Mystery and Doom Patrol.
The Connecticut Post reported last year police seized a computer from Rivera’s home during the course of the investigation and found numerous files depicting child pornography, including three videos.
A representative with the Fairfield, Conn., judicial district’s clerk office confirmed Rivera pleaded guilty to illegal possession of child pornography in the second degree Monday, July 16, exactly two years after the objectionable material was found on the thumb drive. The judge inquired of Rivera to ensure his guilty plea was voluntary.
“The court made a finding of guilty after canvassing the defendant on his plea,” wrote Ernie Robear, deputy chief clerk with the State of Connecticut Superior Court, Judicial District of Fairfield, a Friday email to Eye on Comics.
The pending case detail on the judicial branch website contained a note referring to “substituted charges.” The Connecticut Post reported last year Rivera was originally charged with illegal possession of child pornography in the first degree, so it’s unclear when, if or why the charge was downgraded or if there was an error in the initial reports on the case.
The charge falls under statute 53a-196e of the Connecticut Penal Code. It states someone is guilty of the offence is he or she “knowingly possesses 20 or more but fewer than 50 visual depictions of child pornography.” It also appears Rivera is facing at least two years in prison, as the statute notes, ” … Any person found guilty under this section shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of which two years of the sentence imposed may not be suspended or reduced by the court.”
Earlier this year, Rivera had sought to have the evidence against him excluded, as his defence argued the police search of the thumb drive was illegal. However, a judge denied the motion in March.
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