BRADENTON -- A tip from a landlord led detectives to charge a 72-year-old Bradenton man with 50 counts of possession of child pornography.
Gerald Lucas was arrested Friday after a search of his home in the 1400 block of 32nd Street West in Bradenton. He remains in custody at the Manatee County jail on bonds totaling $500,000.
Arrest and incident reports detail what led to Lucas being arrested.
On March 22, Lucas' landlord went to the Bradenton Police Department after learning from another tenant Lucas had child pornography on his laptop. The landlord told police he had not seen the images but was concerned because Lucas' laptop was connected to his Wi-Fi.
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As the homeowner, the landlord gave police written consent to search common rooms at his house. When of
ficers arrived and were escorted in by the landlord, Lucas was using the laptop.
"Hey, they are here because (our other roommate) says you have child porn in your computer," he told Lucas in front of the officers, according to the arrest affidavit.
Lucas immediately closed the laptop but an officer confiscated it to avoid any evidence being deleted.
One officer asked Lucas if they could search his bedroom, but he declined, according to the incident report. While the officer was speaking with Lucas, they reportedly noticed an ash tray with a marijuana cigarette in it along with rolling papers, a bag of marijuana and a grinder.
Officers asked the homeowner if the drugs were his and he said they were not. Lucas said they were his.
"All those items belong to me, as I believe marijuana should be legal and I smoke regularly," Lucas told officers according to the incident report.
Lucas was arrested and is facing charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Lucas' roommate, who had come across the videos initially, spoke to police outside the home, according to the incident report. He told police he came across videos depicting porn when Lucas asked him to clear the laptop of viruses.
Lucas' roommate then gave detectives a recorded statement March 27 during which he detailed what he found on the laptop. He also told detectives Lucas destroyed another computer after officers took his laptop March 22.
A search warrant signed by a judge April 7 allowed investigators to search the laptop along with a flash drive taken from Lucas. A forensic analysis of computer files confirmed 50 videos or images of child pornography.
Bradenton Police detective Kevin Bunch estimated in the affidavit each of the children in all of the videos charged in the case were less than 14 years old.
Anyone with information regarding this case can call Bunch at 941-932-9380 or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000, call Crime Stoppers at 866-634-8477 or go to manateecrimestoppers.com
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.