Firefighters stumbled upon images of child pornography while battling a blaze Tuesday at a home on Dock Road in Eagleswood Township, and the discovery has led to charges against the home’s owner.
State Police spokesman Brian Polite said Gamal El-Zoghby, 76, an Egyptian architect, designer and owner of the landmark home, was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
El-Zoghby, who is listed as a professor of architecture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., was released pending a future court, Polite said.
State Police troopers arrived at the scene with firefighters, Polite said, and as firefighters were pulling Sheetrock from the walls of the home to make sure the fire wasn’t spreading, images of child pornography began to fall from the ceiling.
Polite said it appared that the pornography was hidden in the ceiling. Polite said he could not discuss how many images were found.
State Police are investigating the blaze, but have not determined the cause of the fire. The Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office is no longer investigating the fire.
West Creek Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Dennis C. Seeley Jr. said firefighters, police, investigators and emergency medical crews were at the scene for 12 hours battling the fire.
“I thank the fire departments for their hard efforts. We had a lot of hard work but we got it put out. There were departments from New Gretna to Barnegat who helped out,” Seeley said.
The State Police Arson and Bomb Unit were deployed to the fire, but Polite said he was not sure the exact reason the bomb unit was sent.
In 1996, El-Zoghby purchased the waterfront double lot at the end of Dock Road and started to design his dream home. In a 2004 interview with The Press of Atlantic City, El-Zoghby said the home was a representation of his soul.
During another interview with The Press in July, El-Zoghby described the home as a dream for him and his partner, Martha Steinberg.
At a long table in his dining room, El-Zoghby spoke of the work it took to build the home, work that he said continued after its initial construction in the late 1990s. The red-colored home towers over the bay and dwarfs many of the typical shore homes that line Dock Road.
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