FREEHOLD – A Florida man has admitted to falsely portraying himself as a modeling agent in order to manipulate a minor into sending him sexually explicit images and videos of herself, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Wednesday.
Joseph Germain, 31, of Casselberry, Florida (Seminole County), late last week pleaded guilty to first-degree Manufacturing Child Sexual Abuse Materials and second-degree Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials. Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for Friday, May 13, at which time Germain will face a term of eight years in state prison, subject to New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA), meaning a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence must be served before the possibility of parole. He will also be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and remain subject to Parole Supervision for Life.
The investigation into Germain’s activities was initiated by the Brielle Police Department, which determined that several years ago, the defendant created a false online persona, claiming to be “Alex” from a company called “Elite Model Management,” using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2017, the investigation determined, Germain contacted a juvenile living in Brielle, claiming he wanted to help her create a modeling portfolio and promising a $50,000 contract. After the victim agreed, Germain convinced her to electronically send him numerous photos and videos of herself in sexually explicit poses.
During the course of their interactions, the victim openly indicated to Germain that she did not feel comfortable sending the photos and videos due to her age, but he persisted in demanding additional files. At times, Germain sent her fake screenshots from an employee purportedly named “Cassandra,” promising to release the money once the victim’s “portfolio” was complete.
The victim never received any payments – but did ultimately begin receiving text messages from multiple phone numbers claiming to be employees of “Elite Model Management,” threatening to post her photos and videos to the Internet unless she sent additional explicit material. Eventually, some of the videos did make their way online.
The investigation determined that Germain was responsible for the various threatening texts – and for posting the videos online. Germain was arrested in Florida in 2019 and extradited back to New Jersey for prosecution.
“This investigation left us strongly convinced of the very real possibility that there may be additional victims who have yet to come forward,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “To any remaining victims who may be out there, I would just say this: what was done to you wasn’t just wrong, deceitful, and cruel – it was criminal. We urge you to come forward and speak with us, and offer the assurance that you will be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. We need your assistance to ensure that justice is served.”
If anyone feels that they or someone they know was a victim of a similar or identical scam, they are urged to contact Detective Ryan Maxsiell of the Brielle Police Department at 848-232-5016, or the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Bureau at 732-431-7160, Ext. 7731.
Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can submit a tip to the Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tipline at 1-800-671-4400; by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app (available on iOS and Android – https://www.p3tips.com/1182), by calling 800-671-4400 or by going to the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Cummings of the MCPO Special Victims Bureau.
Germain is represented by Tara Breslow-Testa, Esq., with offices in Freehold and Red Bank.