TRENTON – A Mays Landing man pleaded guilty Monday to luring, part of an undercover police investigation in which he thought he’d be meeting a 14-year-old girl.

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said his office will seek a term of five years for Richard Hoffman, 26, when he is sentenced on April 29. Hoffman will also be required under Megan’s Law to register as a sex offender.

Hoffman, at the time a firefighter and college student, was arrested in September 2018 as part of Operation Open House, an undercover operation including state, county and local law enforcement agencies that targeted men using the Whisper and Kik social media messaging apps to try to lure children for sexual activity.

Prosecutors say Hoffman believed he was chatting with a 14-year-old female and arranged to meet at a home in Toms River to engage in sexual activity. In reality, he was communicating with a detective from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.

Hoffman was arrested when he arrived at the prearranged location in Toms River, prosecutors said.

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Two years ago, Hoffman was charged with child pornography and sexual assault as part of the Operation Open House sting for an incident involving a teenager in the Villas section of Lower Township.

In all, 24 men were arrested in Operation Open House.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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