A 50-year-old Springfield man who works part time as a Santa Claus and as a clown has been charged in U.S. District Court with receiving and possessing child pornography.
August Billek of the 800 block of East Miller Street was ordered detained pending trial following his arrest on Monday.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint against Billek, a law enforcement officer on Jan. 22 identified a computer offering to participate in distributing what appeared to be child pornography via a peer-to-peer network.
The officer browsed the computer, which later was identified as Billek’s, and allegedly identified five movie files depicting children engaged in sexual activity, including with adult men and women.
A federal search warrant was executed at his residence Monday.
Billek’s girlfriend also resides at the East Miller Street address and operates a home day-care business there for children from 18 months of age through elementary school age, law enforcement officials said.
Billek works part time as “Downtown the Clown” and as Santa Claus during the Christmas season, according to the affidavit. Police officers recovered business cards for “Downtown the Clown” and two Santa suits from Billek’s home.
An initial forensic examination of Billek’s laptop computer included 11 video files of child pornography, the affidavit said. The forensic analysis of his desktop computer is pending.
The offense of receiving child pornography carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and up to 20 years. Possession carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
The charges are the result of an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Illinois attorney general’s office, Springfield Police Department and others.
Assistant U.S. attorney Elly Peirson is prosecuting the case, which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.