Mendocino County authorities seized some 8,000 child pornography images from the trailer home of a 54-year-old Gualala man after finding a smaller number of illicit sexual pictures on an iPod believed to belong to him last month.
Even so, Russell Dean Haber might have been arrested on a misdemeanor charge had investigators not found evidence he was sharing the images, justifying an arrest for suspected felony distribution, Mendocino County Sheriff's Sgt. Greg Van Patten said.
Haber landed in the sights of law enforcement quite by accident, when detectives investigating a drug case involving someone else served a search warrant at another Gualala residence March 26 and stumbled on an iPod containing 184 sexual images of children, Van Patten said.
Haber was not there at the time, but authorities found evidence identifying him as the iPod's owner and got a search warrant for his home - a trailer parked on his mother's property on Bourns Gulch Road, off Highway 1, Van Patten said.
When deputies arrived there about 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Haber hastily powered down his desk-top computer, but investigators later found an estimated 8,000 still images and videos of children of various ages on the computer, Van Patten said.
Haber was arrested for suspicion of concealing or destroying evidence because of his effort to turn off the computer, Van Patten said.
Detectives also found file-sharing software in use and arrested him for suspected distribution of child pornography.
A forensic analysis of his computer was planned, Van Patten said.
Haber was booked into the Mendocino County Jail.
His bail was $15,000.