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MAYS LANDING — A court appearance for a high school principal charged with distributing child pornography was postponed again to allow more time for the defense to analyze evidence.

Attorney Brenden Shur, who represents Edward James Bonek, 48, of Absecon, said Wednesday’s appearance was rescheduled to March 29.

“Our forensic computer expert is examining hard drives provided by the state in the course of discovery,” Shur said.

Bonek, who has pleaded not guilty, has been held in the Cape May County jail since his arrest in August. The high school principal is among several local school employees charged with criminal acts over the past year.

Most recently, diving coach Mark Balesteri Jr., who worked as an aide at Egg Harbor Township High School, was released from jail this past week after being charged with using Snapchat to share images of child pornography. He will appear next for a pre-indictment conference in April. According to documents in the case, Balesteri told police he was a “pervert” and a “pedophile.”

Bridgeton teacher Isaias Garza, 50, of Vineland, was indicted last month after being charged in October with the sexual assault of two former students, court records show. He was released from jail pending trial and is expected to make a plea at his arraignment Monday in Cumberland County Superior Court.

The Fairfield Township superintendent, who was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a private eye he hired to spy on his wife, will appear in court March 13 after pleading not guilty.

Michael Knox, 48, of Burlington was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, possession of instrument of a crime, terroristic threats and simple assault. He is represented by Ronald Greenblatt of Haddonfield.

Knox has since returned to his position in the district, and the school board’s attorney, Frank DiDomenico, said last month the board has not taken any disciplinary action.

Pleasantville High School teacher Jessica R. Gaeckle, who is accused of having sex with an 18-year-old student, waived her first appearance earlier this month. The 30-year-old Galloway Township woman was charged with two counts of official misconduct and one count of hindering apprehension. She will next appear in court March 12.

Meanwhile, the education professionals who pleaded guilty to involvement in an ongoing federal health benefits fraud investigation have yet to be sentenced for their roles in the scheme.

Middle Township teacher Shawn Sypherd, 47; Pleasantville teacher Richard “Erick” McAllister, 43; Ocean City school maintenance worker James Wildman, 44; and Pleasantville guidance counselor Michael Pilate, 40, all pleaded guilty in Camden federal court beginning in September 2017 in the scheme that involved filling medically unnecessary compounded cream medications.

Their sentencing dates have been delayed several times, and all have maintained their state licenses to date, but not their employment.

Contact: 609-272-7251 Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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