BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Former Bloomfield School District teacher Nicholas Schumacher, 30, was sentenced in Morris County Superior Court on Friday, Sept. 16, to three years in prison for distribution of child pornography. Schumacher taught music at Berkeley and Franklin elementary schools and lived in Randolph.
His sentence was part of a plea agreement. Although the distribution charge is a second-degree offense, he was sentenced for a third-degree offense. A charge of possession of child pornography, a third-degree offense, was dropped.
Schumacher, whose parents and wife were present in court, was represented by Gerard Hanlon, of Morristown. The prosecutor was Assistant Morris County Prosecutor Meg Rodriguez. Before Judge Catherine Enright imposed the sentence, Hanlon had the opportunity to request leniency while Rodriguez asked Enright not to waver from the plea agreement.
“I wonder why clients do certain things,” Hanlon told the court. “Nicholas Schumacher is a loved son and husband. He was a music teacher and had no previous offenses with the law.”
Hanlon said that Schumacher, while he viewed images of child pornography on a computer, never distributed the images but traded them.
“It’s far too easy to get into trouble with a computer,” Hanlon said. “People don’t appreciate this. You sit down at a computer, you do this and think, who is going to get harmed by this?”
Hanlon said he was shocked that a person like Schumacher got into this kind of trouble.
“He didn’t even know he had a right to a lawyer,” Hanlon said. “Although this is a major disruption in his life, I am hoping things will turn around for him.”
Rodriguez told the court that she expected Hanlon to say what he did.
“It’s not a surprise,” she said. “What is a surprise is that he was a teacher. His life revolved around children. He needs to be taught a lesson that this online lapse will harm someone.”
Then Schumacher spoke. He stood.
“All I wish to say is I’m sorry,” he said. “I feel so much regret for the people it affected and myself.”
Schumacher said he wanted to serve his time and put what has happened behind him.
Enright prepared to pass sentencing. She said Schumacher could receive a maximum sentence of three years without parole. She said he had no previous criminal record or any history of substance abuse.
“I read letters from his wife, parents and friends,” Enright said. “Each letter said this is nothing short of an aberration.”
But there was also the need to deter the public from the dangers of child pornography, she said.
Enright acknowledged that psychological examinations of Schumacher showed that he was not likely to be a sexual deviate. She then imposed the three-year sentence from the plea agreement and said Schumacher would be eligible for parole after serving one year and 182 days.
The attorneys parried one final time over the monetary penalties Schumacher would have to pay upon his release from prison. Although Rodriguez said he could pay the full amount over time, Hanlon convinced Enright to decrease the amount by $500.
“He’s living with his parents and may be unemployable when he gets out,” Hanlon said. According to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, Schumacher will pay $1,500.
He was also required to relinquish his teaching certificate, forfeit future public employment in New Jersey and be registered under Megan’s Law.
Schumacher was arrested at his home Aug. 21, 2015, and was free on $50,000 bail.
According to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, the investigation began after the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, that child pornography was being uploaded by Schumacher, from his home and place of employment, in Bloomfield. The investigation also determined that he was in possession of images of child pornography.
Schumacher taught in the Bloomfield School District from Sept. 2014 to Aug. 2015. He taught a half day at both Berkeley and Franklin elementary schools.