Triangle Santa and kids’ magician pleads guilty to U.S. child-porn charge

Leander Dewey Jones
Leander Dewey Jones

A Raleigh-area Santa Claus performer and children's party magician has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of manufacturing child pornography and could face as much as 30 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney's office said Tuesday.

Leander Dewey Jones, 64, of 2931 Brentwood Road in Raleigh, entered the plea in a federal courtroom in Wilmington on Monday, the attorney’s office said.

Raleigh police arrested Jones after he took his computer into a repair shop in May 2015 and a technician working on it came across a folder with child pornography. The shop alerted authorities, and the case became a joint investigation with the FBI.

Raleigh police found that the porn folder had been created almost a year earlier, they said, and a state charge of second-degree exploitation of a minor cited that date.

Police got a search warrant from a Wake County magistrate, and they and agents found about 4,000 images of child pornography on Jones’ computer and external hard drives he had, prosecutors said. Another 1,000 images were on compact and floppy disks, they added.

Authorities said the pornography included images of Jones’ two grandchildren from times he was taking care of them.

Jones is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 1, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. The maximum penalty would be 30 years in prison.