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Long IslandCrime

Massapequa teacher charged with uploading, possessing child pornography

Teacher Joseph Zanco has been on paid leave from Massapequa High School since April, officials said.

Joseph Zanco, left, a teacher from Massapequa High

Joseph Zanco, left, a teacher from Massapequa High School, with his lawyer Alan Nelson as they both leave federal court in Central Islip on Aug. 13. Photo Credit: John Roca

A longtime physics teacher at Massapequa High School was arrested Monday and charged with uploading and possessing hundreds of images of child pornography, according to officials.

Joseph Zanco, 43, of Massapequa, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Central Islip to one count of transportation of child pornography and two counts of possession of child pornography.

Zanco was released on $300,000 bond by Magistrate Anne Shields at the federal court in Central Islip.  Shields also imposed a number of conditions on Zanco, including home confinement with electronic monitoring and barring him from being in the presence of anyone under 18 without a responsible adult there.

In court, Zanco’s attorney, Alan Nelson, of Lake Success, said that his client had been a physics teacher at the high school for 12 years, and has been on paid leave since an April raid on his home by federal agents.

Zanco went out on leave after the teacher told education officials that his home had been searched by federal agents, said Nelson said, who had no further comment after court.

Eastern District United States Attorney Richard Donahue said in a statement: "As alleged, Zanco possessed and transported hundreds of images of child pornography, crimes that contribute to the victimization of minor children, while he was employed in a position of trust as a teacher.”

Lucille Iconis, Superintendent of the Massapequa school system, said in a statement: “Today the district was informed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the arraignment of Mr. Joseph Zanco, a Massapequa High School teacher, with possession of child pornography. Mr. Zanco is currently on administrative leave.

“The district has and will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement authorities in this matter,” Iconis said. “We take these allegations very seriously as the safety and well-being of children is our paramount concern. As this is an active and ongoing legal matter, the district has no further comment at this time.”

Zanco started uploading “hundreds of images of child pornography” to the storage feature of his Google account in April, federal prosecutors said in court papers. Google officials, following both federal law and the company’s policies, suspended the teacher’s account, and notified law enforcement, the papers said.

Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement then searched Zanco’s home and his Google account, laptop computer and cell phone and found the images of child pornography, the papers said.  

Zanco faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison if convicted of the charges.

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