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Man who played Santa Claus pleads guilty to charges of child porn

In federal court, a 64-year-old man pleaded guilty to manufacturing child pornography. That single count is a far cry from the 12 charges of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor he faced after he was arrested last year.

The man took his desktop computer in to be worked on in May 2015. A technician working on the man's computer found a folder that contained child pornography. Authorities said that the technician immediately contacted the owner of the store, who notified the Raleigh Police Department in North Carolina.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Child Exploitation Task Force and police were led to the man's home in Raleigh. Around 5,000 images depicting child pornography were found on the man's computer, CDs, floppy discs and external hard drives. Some of the photos showed children as young as 6. In June 2015, prosecutors also told the court that there was a "spy" camera set up in the man's bathroom.

The man was listed on the Triangle Santa Buddies website. His profile said he became part of the organization in 2014. The profile is no longer on the website, but there were business cards found by investigators where he advertised that he was a magician, a pirate and a Santa Claus for children.

The man faces up to 30 years in prison and is due back on Aug. 1 for sentencing.

While everything must be done to protect children, those who are facing crimes involving children have a right to a fair trial. They also have a right to appeal a verdict that is unfavorable. In some cases, a plea deal may be offered, where other charges are dropped in exchange for a guilty plea on another charge. This should be discussed with your attorney at length because every defendant's case may not benefit from a plea bargain.

Source: abc11.com, "Raleigh man who worked as Santa pleads guilty to child porn charges," May 10, 2016

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