- Associated Press - Friday, March 6, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - A Bronx high school teacher was arrested on child porn charges Friday after authorities accused him of using a school computer and a photograph of a former student as he enticed teenage boys to send him photographs, sometimes nude, in return for several thousand dollars in gift cards.

Jon Cruz, 32, was held on $1 million bail after an initial appearance in Manhattan federal court.

Cruz, a Manhattan resident and a teacher and debate coach at the Bronx High School of Science, was arrested on charges related to producing, receiving and possessing child pornography. His lawyer did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the charges.

According to a criminal complaint, about 30 nude photographs of two boys were found on a computer in his residence during a search, including 10 pictures of a 15-year-old New Mexico boy with whom he had been communicating.

The complaint said Cruz signed a document waiving his rights as he confessed that he had engaged in chats with children for several years, asking them for pornographic pictures in exchange for payments. The document said he also admitted he had solicited non-nude pictures of a student at Bronx Science in exchange for a gift.

Authorities said Cruz engaged in chats with boys in New Mexico and New York state from July to December. It said Cruz paid a 15-year-old boy more than $500 to take sexual explicit pictures of him and send them to Cruz.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement: “Jon Cruz was involved in child pornography while he was working with children every day through his job as a teacher and debate coach. Now the justice process must take over.”

If convicted of all charges, Cruz would face a mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison.

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