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Case Number: 1:19-cr-00112-JJM-LDA
Judge: John J. McConnell, Jr.
Court: United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island (Providence County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States District Attorney’s Office, Providence, Rhode Island
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Description: Providence, Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer represent defendant charged with coercing a minor to engage in illict sexual conduct.
Lieutenant Commander Ronald W. Zenga, 44, of Middletown, RI, a retired U.S. Navy pilot most recently stationed at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, was charged with coercing a minor to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and that he distributed, received, and possessed child pornography, all while actively serving and following his retirement from active service with the U.S. Navy.
According to court documents and information provided to the Court, in September 2018, HSI agents in Providence received information from the Bedfordshire Police Department (BPD) in the United Kingdom that an individual, later identified as Zenga, was communicating with a BPD agent through a Russian file sharing website. The communications graphically described ongoing sexual encounters with a young minor child. Zenga described several years of sexual encounters with a child, dating back to the child’s prepubescent years.
On October 17, 2018, HSI agents and members of the Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force executed a federal court authorized search of Zenga’s Middletown residence. Forensic previews of Zenga’s electronic devices resulted in the discovery of emails and files of child pornography allegedly shared, received and possessed by Zenga.
At sentencing on February 2, 2021, Zenga faces statutory penalties of 10 years to life in federal prison followed by 5 years to lifetime supervised release on the charge of coercion; 5-20 years imprisonment followed by up to lifetime supervised release on the charges of distribution of child pornography and receipt of child pornography; and up to 10 years imprisonment and 3 years supervised release on the charge of possession of child pornography.
Zenga’s guilty plea is announced by United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Acting Special Agent in Charge David Magdycz, and Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police Colonel James M. Manni.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. McAdams.
The Rhode Island ICAC Task Force is comprised of members of the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit along with detectives from the Warwick Police Department, Cranston Police Department, Newport Police Department, East Providence Police Department, Pawtucket Police Department, Bristol Police Department, Portsmouth Police Department, and Homeland Security Investigations.
18:2422(b) - ENTICEMENT OR COERCION OF A MINOR TO ENGAGE IN ILLICIT SEXUAL ACTIVITY
18:2423(a) - TRANSPORTATION OF A MINOR WITH INTENT TO ENGAGE IN ILLICIT SEXUAL ACTIVITY
18:2423(b),(e) and (f) - INTERSTATE TRAVEL WITH INTENT TO ENGAGE IN ILLICIT SEXUAL CONDUCT
18:2252(a)(2) and (b)(1) - DISTRIBUTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
18:2252(a)(2) and (b)(1) - RECEIPT OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
18:2252(a)(4) and (b)(2) - POSSESSION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
Outcome: 11/19/2020 Minute Entry for proceedings held before Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr.:Change of Plea Hearing as to Ronald W. Zenga held on 11/19/2020, Plea entered by Ronald W. Zenga (1) Guilty Count 1,6,7,8. John McAdams for Government. John MacDonald for Defendant. Defendant sworn. Court advises Defendant of the right to appear in person; Defendant consents to appear via video. Court verifies that the Defendant has reviewed the charges & plea agreement with his attorney. Court questions Defendant and reviews maximum penalties, sentencing guidelines, and constitutional rights. Government outlines the legal elements and facts of the case. Defendant agrees with Government's outline. Defendant pleads guilty to Counts 1, 6-8. Court accepts plea & adjudges defendant guilty. Sentencing Hearing is February 2, 2021 at 10:00am. Defendant remanded. Court adjourned. (Court Reporter Karen Wischnowsky in Courtroom Zoom Video at 10:00 am.)(McGuire, Vickie) (Entered: 11/19/2020)
11/19/2020 NOTICE OF HEARING DEFENDANT REQUEST as to Ronald W. Zenga. Sentencing set for 2/2/2021 at 10:00 AM in Zoom Remote Hearing before Chief Judge John J. McConnell, Jr.(McGuire, Vickie) (Entered: 11/19/2020)