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More charges loom in porn case

A Nevada County man already charged with possession of child pornography is expected to face numerous counts of felony child molestation.

Nevada County Sheriff Lt. Ron Smith said investigators from the Sheriff’s Office and the Berkeley Police Department have uncovered evidence that Luis Ponce, 49, has been molesting children in Nevada County for more than a year.

Ponce is now in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County on $999,999 bail. He is scheduled to enter a plea on the slew of misdemeanor charges Feb. 15.



More than 100 computer discs and four videotapes of male and female children in sexual poses and engaging in sexual acts were recovered at Ponce’s workplace and home, said Alameda County Deputy District Attorney John Creighton.

Ponce is employed by the Berkeley Fire Department as a paramedic supervisor, and commuted from his home on the 13000 block of Rattlesnake Road. One of Ponce’s co-workers alerted law enforcement when she found several of the unlabeled discs and put them in her computer to determine what was on them, Creighton said.




After obtaining a warrant, police and sheriff’s deputies searched Ponce’s locker at the fire department and his home Jan. 26, and arrested him for three counts of possession of child pornography.

In addition to the discs and videos, 60 pairs of girl’s panties were also found in Ponce’s locker, Creighton said.

Investigators are confident a man depicted in at least one of the videos is Ponce.

“We believe it was him,” Smith said, adding that a search of Ponce’s body will reveal more evidence of his involvement.

After further investigation of computers seized in searches of Ponce’s home and fire station, the possession charges were raised from three up to 57. Smith said new felony child molestation charges may be filed against Ponce by the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office as early as this week.

Ponce will have to be transported back to Nevada County by local officials to be arraigned on any new charges in Nevada County Superior Court.

Berkeley Fire Department Deputy Chief David Orth said Ponce will remain employed until police finish their investigation.

“He is still on our employee list at this point,” Orth said. “We have to wait until the police operation is complete. It’s an ongoing investigation.”

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To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@theunion.com or call 477-4236.


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