Saturday, August 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Sex offender magician not breaking law: Officials

Magician Jeft Carson, from a promotional site on the left, is an alias for Jeffrey Leach, shown on the right from a picture on the New Jersey State Police sex offender registry website.
Magician Jeft Carson, from a promotional site on the left, is an alias for Jeffrey Leach, shown on the right from a picture on the New Jersey State Police sex offender registry website.

A South Jersey-based magician on the state sex offender registry has changed his stage name and was practicing magic for children as recently as last year, according to postings on a magicians' forum.

But a spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said the man isn’t violating any laws, as the terms of his probation don’t preclude him from performing magic shows for kids. That could change as his probation ends and stricter terms under parole might come into play.

In anonymous postings to a forum, magicians said that Jeff Carson of Burlington City is Jeffrey R. Leach. Leach is listed on the New Jersey State Police sex offender registry as a Tier II sex offender. New Jersey has three tiers of sex offenders, with the third tier being the worst.

Leach's name and past went viral Thursday after postings shared over the summer got picked up on social media.

A video posted last May on YouTube shows Leach, who has at least three other aliases, performing a balloon trick with a young boy onstage at a Philadelphia theater. Leach has also used the stage name Ron Geoffries, according to an Inquirer report detailing one of his arrests.

Photographs of Leach and Carson match. Indeed, the sex offender registry lists Carson as one of Leach’s aliases. But Leach has dark brown hair in a 2010 law enforcement picture and blondish hair in a more recent picture from December 2013.

Court records indicate two serious allegations involving children were made against Leach.

The first complaint was filed in Toms River accusing Leach, then living in Collingswood, of criminal sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl in July 2006. The acts occurred at a home in Normandy Beach, N.J. Leach was arrested in September 2007 and ordered to have no contact with the victim or anyone under 18 without supervision.

He pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child.

He was later indicted in 2008 in Camden County regarding a second victim, whom he molested repeatedly over a period of years. The indictment states that Leach first began molesting a 10-year-old girl in the summer of 1998. He molested her 20 times through July 2002 in Moorestown, Cherry Hill, Collingswood, and Ocean City, several times forcing her to watch pornography.

Leach pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years' probation in May 2009. The sentence was made concurrent with the sentence out of Toms River. He was required to undergo psychiatric evaluation and to register as a sex offender under the state Megan's Law.

Leach was further required to perform community service, with the stipulation it did "not involve any contact with children," according to sentencing documents.

He was ordered to serve at least 10 days in jail.

Jason Laughlin, spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, said the terms of Leach’s probation do not bar him from having contact with children. Still, Laughlin said, Leach’s probation expires next month, and the terms of his parole will likely be more restrictive.

Leach, 51, could not be reached immediately for comment at the number given on the Jeff Carson Magic website. His most recent residence is listed as Burlington City.

The connection between Jeffrey Leach and Jeff Carson the magician was first made anonymously on the Magic Leaks 2.0 forum in August of last year. The message got picked up and circulated on Facebook. Most recently, it made its way onto Reddit, where various media spotted it.

The original message read: “So a local golden boy… You know they guy the local magic clubs heap all the trophies on? – He gets arrested and later pleads guilty to a child sexual offense. At the time his name was Ron Geofries (sic). – You can search NJ Megan’s Law website and see him or his other aliases – Jeffrey Leach or his new “magic name” Jeff Carson as a registered sex offender.”

A bio on Carson's website said Thursday morning that, “Carson is a magician, comedian, and juggler. He started performing 42 years ago at the age of 8." It continues that he has a degree in theater and speech communication and has performed for corporations, colleges, cruises and casinos, “as well as countless private parties across the country.” One of the stints included Toys R Us. Carson also performed in Pennsylvania.

Most of the pages on Carson’s website, including the bio, now serve up a 404 error, meaning the pages are no longer available.

Carson lists himself on the website Gig Salad as a full-time professional magician and comedian for "family shows, corporate shows, cocktail parties, school shows ... " 

Emily Babay and Alex Wigglesworth PHILLY.COM
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