Palmyra man charged with growing marijuana, possession of child pornography

The man was placed in the Burlington County Jail Friday morning pending a first appearance in Superior Court.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina, FBI Newark Field Office Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher and Palmyra Police Chief Scott Pearlman announced that a Palmyra man was arrested Friday, April 28 for growing marijuana inside his home and possessing child pornography.

James Hightower, 48, was charged with one count of first degree operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility, second degree manufacturing, distributing or dispensing a controlled dangerous substance and one count of third degree endangering welfare of children.

Investigators went to Hightower’s home this morning to serve a search warrant and take him into custody on the child pornography charge. Forcible entry was made after he refused to open his door. Investigators discovered the marijuana plants growing in his living room and garage.

A total of 26 plants were seized as were computers, cell phones and other digital media. The man was placed in the Burlington County Jail pending a first appearance in Superior Court.

The investigation into Hightower began in January when the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office High-Tech Crimes Unit received intelligence from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children concerning his online activities.

The investigation revealed that the defendant uploaded images of pre-pubescent girls engaging in sexual acts with adult males.

The case was investigated by the BCPO’s High-Tech Crimes Unit and the FBI’s Innocent Images Unit out of their Newark, New Jersey Field Office. The lead investigator for the BCPO was Detective Sergeant Dave Kohler, who heads the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office High-Tech Crimes Unit.

The search warrant was executed by investigators from the Prosecutor’s Office, the FBI and the Palmyra Police Department.

The High-Tech Crimes Unit and the FBI are members of the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and the New Jersey State Police Cyber Terrorism Task Force.