Former Southern California Music Teacher Sentenced for Producing Child Pornography

John Edward Zeretzke Had Contracts in Santa Ynez Valley and Founded Flutes Across the World Program

John Edward Zeretzke, a former music teacher in Southern California who founded a program called Flutes Across the World and taught at other programs — including ones at the Wildling Museum and Circle V Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley — was sentenced this Thursday to 15 years and three months in federal prison for producing child pornography, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney General’s Office.

Zeretzke, 62, of Ventura, pleaded guilty a year ago to one count of production of child pornography and was sentenced by United States District Judge Fernando M. Olguin.

According to authorities, Zeretzke had 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,” and was sentenced in July 2020 to 18 years in state prison, a sentence that will run concurrently with his federal prison sentence.

From December 2016 to February 2017, Zeretzke communicated with a female minor — who did not live in California at the time — on the internet and coerced her into producing child pornography. The case is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing initiative to combat the plague of child exploitation crimes, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Catharine A. Richmond of the Violent and Organized Crime Section. 

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“[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.

Zeretzke occasionally had contracts in Santa Barbara through his Flutes Across the World program, which came under investigation in 2016 by state and federal officials after allegations of “flutes tainted with semen were being distributed to children.”

He was then arrested in 2018 by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office on federal charges of coercing an underage girl to produce child pornography, attempting to entice another victim to send him sexually explicit images, traveling to the Philippines with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with other minor victims, and twice receiving child pornography over the internet.

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