An Egg Harbor Township mail carrier, a Bridgeton supermarket customer representative and a local TV station employee are among six men accused of using a file-sharing network to download child pornography, including videos of children being raped.

Fourteen men were arrested between Sept. 30 and Oct. 24 in the first sweep since a new statute toughened the state’s child pornography laws to mean mandatory prison time for those convicted, along with lifetime supervision under Megan’s Law, acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced Monday.

Adding these offenders to the Megan’s Law registry acknowledges “that those who get sexual gratification from these abhorrent images pose a real danger to children,” said Elie Honig, director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Operation Predator Alert is aptly named, because we are sounding the alarm about deviants who troll the Internet for images of children being raped and tortured.”

Beginning in June, investigators followed “fingerprints” of known child pornography as well as search terms used by those who download such files, explained Andrew McLees, special agent in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, whose office led the investigation.

Those online images showing children “abused, raped and tortured” never go away, so “victimization does not end at the snapping of a photo or the taking of a video,” Hoffman said at a news conference in Trenton.

Perpetrators share the files on networks similar to those used by websites that privately share music or movies. Under the new statute, if 25 or more images and/or videos are found on the confiscated computers, there would be a charge of distribution, which now carries a mandatory five-year prison sentence without parole. No one else has to have seen the files; they only need to be accessible in a shared folder.

Thirteen of the men are charged under the statute that took effect Aug. 14, which says that anyone with 100 or more child pornography files on his or her computer will face a possible three- to five-year prison sentence. It was previously a fourth-degree crime that did not come with the presumption of jail time.

Only James Hooker, 66, of Eastampton, Burlington County, is charged under the older law.

“This is hard time for the hardest of criminals, those who have abused and taken advantage of the most innocent and vulnerable victims imaginable,” Hoffman said. “The claim that viewing child pornography is a victimless crime is an affront to victims whose images and cries can never be erased from the Internet.”

None of the men work with children in a traditional way, such as teachers or day-care workers, officials said. But some did have children — who are not related to them — living at their homes. Those children have been interviewed by investigators and do not appear to have been abused, Hoffman said.

Those charged range in age from 24 to 66, with jobs that include auto mechanic, engineer and a master control operator for a television network.

The Attorney General’s Office did not release which network that was, but the Facebook page of Mitchell Beard lists his employer as “WMGM-TV NBC 40.” It indicates he has worked there from 2006 until the present. Beard, 32, and his twin brother, Jackson, live together in Lower Township and were both arrested Oct. 9. Each is being held on $75,000 bail.

Mitchell Beard also had an illegal assault rifle in his bedroom, according to the charges.

News Director Harvey Cox said in an email that Beard does not work in his department and that any personnel matters would be under General Manager Roger Powe. Powe did not return emails seeking comment.

Jeffrey Mander, 25, of Bridgeton, works at a supermarket there. His bail is set at $50,000. Juan Carlos Alvarez, 33, is a mail carrier who lives in Egg Harbor Township. He is being held on $100,000 bail.

The other local men charged are Frank Gillice, 63, of Cape May Court House, and Mark V. Miller, 66, of Millville. Gillice is jailed on $75,000 bail. Miller was released on his own recognizance due to a disability. No further details could be made available due to privacy laws.

Operation Predator Alert has an app on iTunes that allows people to submit tips anonymously or get alerts on those wanted. It also lists the 10 most wanted fugitives.

McLees said having to deal with such disturbing images and videos can be difficult for investigators, who undergo testing and have the option of psychological support.

Contact Lynda Cohen:

609-272-7257

@LyndaCohen on Twitter