N.C. Santa arrested on child porn charges

Leander Jones, 63, of Raleigh, North Carolina, a local mall Santa Claus, was arrested for having child pornography on his computer. (Facebook: Santa Lee Jones/WNCN)

RALEIGH, N.C. — A Raleigh man has been arrested on charges of having child pornography after taking his computer to a computer repair shop.

Leander Dewey Jones, 63, was arrested after police say they found multiple child pornography images saved on his computer. Arrest warrants say the images were of children under 10 years old.

Jones worked as a shopping mall Santa Claus and was a member of the Triangle Santa Buddies. His page, which has been removed, said he goes by “Santa Lee Jones” and he joined the organization in 2014. The organization helps provide Santa appearances to the Triangle area.

Prosecutors say he also appeared as a pirate and magician at kids’ birthdays.

They say a technician at a computer repair shop noticed a picture that could be child porn and alerted police. Police, along with FBI, obtained a search warrant and found the pictures on his computer and several other CDs and flash drives.

A small pen camera was found hidden in a bathroom of his home after police say a family member came forward and said they were concerned about it.

Jones has been charged with 12 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. Jones, who has been appointed a public defender, is being held on $1 million bond in the Wake County jail. His next court appearance will be on June 22.

The FBI Child Exploitation Take Force has taken over the investigation.

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