LACEY — A man who worked as a corrections officer at a state juvenile detention facility found himself in custody on Monday after being charged with distributing child pornography during a three day period last year.

Michael A. Ruggiero, 35, was arrested at his place of work and charged with one count of distribution of child pornography, according to Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick. State pension records show Ruggiero was employed at the Albert C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility in Chesterfield.

His was one of two child-pornography arrests in the state announced Monday.

According to Fitzpatrick, from April 16, 2016, until April 19, 2016, Ruggiero used a mobile chat app to distribute and shared images and videos of children engaged in sexual acts.

If convicted of distributing child pornography Ruggiero faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison, with a maximum sentence of 20 years. He also faces a $250,000 fine. He was scheduled to make his first court appearance on Monday in federal court in Trenton.

Fitzpatrick asked anyone with information about the case to call Homeland Security Investigations at 973-776-5500.

Dimas Zuniga (NJ Attorney General's Office)

Also on Monday, state Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced Dimas Zuniga, 45, of Roselle, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree distribution of child pornography.

Porrino said as part of the plea Zuniga admitted to having more than 350 pictures and videos of child pornography and distributed them on the internet. Zuniga had been arrested last week as part of "Operation Safeguard."

"Child pornography is a product that is manufactured by torturing and sexually exploiting young children, and criminals like Zuniga who distribute this product online contribute directly to that exploitation," Porrino said.

Under the terms of the plea agreement Zuniga will be recommended for a sentence of five years in prison. he will also have to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law, and be subject to lifetime parole supervision.

"By sending offenders like Zuniga to prison, we hammer home the message that this is a very serious crime that will be met with stern punishment," Porrino said.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 14.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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