A North Carolina man who worked as a Santa Claus at a local mall was arrested Saturday on child pornography charges, local news publication WRAL reports.

Leander Dewey Jones, 63, also known as "Santa Lee Jones," was charged with 12 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. A district judge increased Jones' bond from $600,000 to $1 million Monday after she heard details about the case from prosecutors.

Jones landed in jail after a computer sales and repair shop found the alleged child porn on his personal computer, according to Wake County Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger. Police then searched Jones' computer and found files of naked children between the ages of 6 and 10. Authors said they also explicit photos on USB drives and discs in the mall Santa's home.

The F.B.I. has since taken over the investigation due to the amount of child pornography that was discovered, Zellinger told WRAL.

A member of Jones' family asked for her young children to be evaluated after police found a small camera hidden inside his home.

Authorities also found business cards listing Jones as Santa Claus and pictured him wearing a Santa costume. Zellinger told the publication Jones worked as a magician and dressed as a pirate for parties and other events, as well. Jones is also a member of the Triangle Santa Buddies organization, according to founder Al Capehart. According to the group's website, Jones joined in 2014.

Though Capehart declined to comment on the situation he did say his group does not do background checks on its members.

WRAL reported John Thomas Peters, who was also a member of the Triangle Santa Buddies, was charged with soliciting teen girls online for sex. He pleaded guilty in 2012 to second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and soliciting sex by computer. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

According to WRAL a background check would have yielded no red flags as he does not have a prior criminal record.

From our media partner EDGE


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