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Ventura Man and Former Music Teacher Pleads Guilty to Federal Criminal Charge of Production of Child Pornography

          LOS ANGELES – A former music teacher who contracted with a number of school districts in Southern California pleaded guilty today to a federal child pornography charge.

          John Edward Zeretzke, 61, of Ventura, pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography.

          He previously pleaded guilty in Orange County Superior Court to six state counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts with minors under the age of 14 years old.

          According to his plea agreement in the federal case, from December 2016 to February 2017, Zeretzke used a computer and the internet to communicate with a female minor and coerced her into producing child pornography. The victim did not live in California at the time.

          United States District Judge Fernando M. Olguin has scheduled a December 3 sentencing hearing, at which time Zeretzke will face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison. Zeretzke has been sentenced to 18 years in state prison and federal prosecutors are recommending an 18-year federal prison sentence that will run concurrently with his state prison sentence.

          This case is a part of Project Safe Childhood, the Justice Department’s ongoing initiative to combat the plague of child exploitation crimes.

          This matter was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Special Victims Bureau.

          This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Justin R. Rhoades.

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