A multi-agency investigation targeting distributors of child pornography in the East Bay netted at least four arrests in recent months, including an elementary school teacher, prosecutors said Monday.
“Operation Broken Heart” was a nationwide investigation of crimes against children that were facilitated by technology, such as individuals using social media or other digital means to arrange sexual activity with minors, according to the Contra Costa County district attorney.
Participating agencies included the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the U.S. Secret Service, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations and police departments in Walnut Creek, Concord and Moraga.
One of the most alarming indictments involved a third and fourth grade teacher at Gomes Elementary School in Fremont, Gerald Jue of Danville, who allegedly searched for child pornography on the internet. Fremont Unified School District officials issued a statement when Jue was first arrested April 11, stating there was no indication that FUSD students were in any way involved in the materials recovered from Jue’s home as evidence.
Jue was subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this month and arrested, but has since made bail while he awaits trial. Sonny Mitchell, a registered sex offender, was arrested May 2 on suspicion of distributing child pornography via Facebook Messenger. Investigators serving a warrant at his home in Antioch allegedly found additional material on a device that was seized as evidence. He remains in custody awaiting trial, according to prosecutors.
The following day a warrant was served at William Cashell’s apartment in Walnut Creek after authorities received a tip from Yahoo indicating he’d allegedly been keeping child pornography in an email account. A warrant has been issued for Cashell’s arrest.
Then on May 16, investigators served a warrant at the home of Henry Cordon in Antioch. While Cordon was being questioned he allegedly confessed to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old child in Flordia in 2009, and prosecutors say he produced at least one pornographic image of the assault. Cordon remains in custody while he is under investigation in both California and Florida.
In addition to enforcement efforts, Operation Broken Heart also included a school outreach program aimed at educating parents and students at multiple Contra Costa County schools about the risks associated with social media and smartphones. Anyone interested in booking such a presentation can contact Senior Inspector Darryl Holcombe at email@example.com.
More information on that topic is available online at www.kidsmartz.org.