- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 16, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - A central New Jersey man uploaded child pornography in a bid to gain membership to what he thought was an “exclusive” online forum that actually was a site covertly operated by federal agents, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Donald Haring, 60, of Long Branch, allegedly used a peer-to-peer file sharing network to obtain and distribute sexually suggestive images of children. He was due to make his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

An undercover agent allegedly downloaded child sexual abuse files from Haring’s computer in June 2014. At the time, they said Haring was sharing more than 100 files.

Four months later, Haring applied to an online child pornography forum covertly operated by undercover federal agents, prosecutors said. The online forum was maintained in a way that made it appear the forum was an exclusive and secure members-only website.

Prospective members were required to upload images of child sexual abuse. Prosecutors say Haring eventually uploaded eight images of child sexual abuse to help satisfy the criteria for admission to the online forum.

Federal agents executed a search warrant at Haring’s home in December 2014. Authorities said a forensic examination of one of the devices they seized revealed more than 4,600 images and 75 movies of child sexual abuse.

Haring faces two counts of distributing child pornography and one count of possessing it. He could face up to 50 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

It was not known Wednesday if he has retained an attorney or if he would be represented at the hearing by a public defender.

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