Ex-Ventura music teacher sentenced to more than 15 years in prison in federal child pornography case

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In this 2016 file photo, music teacher John Zeretzke, right, applauds his students after they performed a piece with flutes they built in his class in Lake Forest, Calif. Zeretzke, the founder of an international music program who was accused of giving semen-tainted flutes to California elementary school students, was sentenced to 18 years in state prison, the state attorney's office said Wednesday, July 8, 2020. (Nick Koon/The Orange County Register via Associated Press)

In this 2016 file photo, music teacher John Zeretzke, right, applauds his students after they performed a piece with flutes they built in his class in Lake Forest, Calif. Zeretzke, the founder of an international music program who was accused of giving semen-tainted flutes to California elementary school students, was sentenced to 18 years in state prison, the state attorney’s office said Wednesday, July 8, 2020. (Nick Koon/The Orange County Register via Associated Press)

A former teacher who contracted with several Southern California schools to teach music to children has been sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison for producing child pornography, officials reported.

John Edward Zeretzke, 62, of Ventura, was sentenced Thursday to 183 months in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Zeretzke pleaded guilty in August 2020 to one count of production of child pornography after having 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.

In July 2020 he was sentenced to 18 years in state prison, which will run concurrently with his federal prison sentence, officials said.

Prosecutors said between December 2016 and February 2017, Zeretzke communicated online with a girl who lived out of state and coerced her into producing child pornography.

“[Zeretzke] preyed on young, impoverished girls in Third World countries and used his Flutes Around the World program as a means to contact and sometimes take advantage of those girls,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Through that program, state prosecutors said Zeretzke gave semen-tainted flutes to children who were interested in learning the instrument.

The case against Zeretzke was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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