A former high school teacher at the Bronx High School of Science pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography in Manhattan federal court on September 23. The charge carries a mandatory five-year prison sentence with a maximum of 20 years.
Jon Cruz, 33, paid minors to send him sexually explicit images between July 2014 and December 2015. Investigators said he had multiple conversations with at least five victims in New Mexico and New York. He used mobile apps and social media such as Instagram to solicit lewd photos in exchange for money.
According to authorities, the Manhattan resident used a former student’s photo as his Facebook profile picture to lure teenage boys. Investigators recovered 40 naked pictures of underage victims on Cruz’s home computer. They also discovered that the former teacher used a school computer to carry out the crimes.
In March 2015 Cruz resigned from the high school, which is one of the most competitive in the city. He enjoyed popularity at the school as a speech and debate coach recognized for taking the school team to the national level with his leadership.
As part of the plea, the prosecution agreed to recommend a sentence ranging from 11 to 14 years. However, Cruz may still end up serving more time in prison. He will be sentenced on January 27.