A Jersey City man who recently became a U.S. citizen pleaded guilty today in federal court to possession of child pornography and naturalization fraud.

According to U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger, between June 2022 to October 2022, Ramy Mercado, 29, of Jersey City, used his cell phone to transmit more than 20 video files depicting the sexual abuse of minors, including infants or toddlers. Mercado also used his cell phone to communicate his desire for sexual encounters with young children. 

During this time period, Mercado also applied for and obtained U.S. citizenship and stated under penalty of perjury that since his citizenship interview, he had not committed any crime or offense for which he had not been arrested. In fact, said Sellinger, Mercado had illegally possessed child pornography. Mercado became a naturalized U.S. citizen on June 22, 2023.

The count of possession of child pornography carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000. The count of naturalization fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for May 22, 2024. Mercado pleaded guilty before Judge Claire C. Cecchi.