Bad, Bad Santa Charged With Distribution of Child Porn

It's every parent's nightmare: That mall Santa isn't a well-adjusted, gainfully employed middle-aged man who just likes spreading Christmas cheer by having little kids sit on his lap, but a sexual predator.

That nightmare came to life, federal agents say, when they found more than 1,000 child-porn images on the computer of a 37-year-old man who's played Santa Claus "for the past 15 years throughout the South Texas area," according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement press release. 

Reynaldo Ramirez of Corpus Christi was charged with distributing child pornography last week after authorities executed a search warrant at his residence. Authorities seized "several digital devices," according to the release.

"At the time of the search, authorities located a Santa Claus costume in Ramirez's residence," the release states. That's when Ramirez allegedly told them about his sideline Kris Kringle gig. (Note: The press release repeatedly refers to Ramirez as a "Santa Claus impersonator," so as not to give the impression that the real St. Nick is an alleged pedophile.) 

"If convicted, Ramirez faces a minimum of five and up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine," according to the release.

The charge comes as part of Homeland Security Investigations' "Operation Predator," an initiative that has resulted in the arrests of more than 14,000 individuals for crimes against children, according to the release. (In fiscal 2015, nearly 2,400 people were arrested, and more than 1,000 victims were rescued or identified.) 

As always, "HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196."


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