A Park City man who police said had a massive collection of child pornography in his home computers is "one of the most prolific child pornography traders in Lake County, if not the state," state Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Thursday.
Investigators said Allen Ayen, 62, had at least 1,800 items of child pornography, and they believe they may find many more on his three computers and collection of compact discs.
During at a news conference in the Lake County courthouse, Madigan said Ayen's arrest came as a result of a months-long investigation of the "worst of the worst" child pornographers in the state.
In perhaps the ultimate irony, Madigan said, her investigators are using the same technology that individuals use to find and collect child pornography to find and collect the collectors.
She said sophisticated programs track the Internet protocol address of a computer being used to search and download pornography, then tell investigators where that computer is located.
"So everyone involved in this should be asking themselves "Is this my day? Is this the day law enforcement is coming to take me out of my house?"'
Madigan said. "And if you are involved in this, let me assure you, your day will come."
She said investigators have identified 8,000 IP addresses in the last 30 days where they believe child pornography is being collected and are working with local law enforcement in continuing investigations.
Dean Kharasch, an investigator with the Lake County state's attorney's office, said he found 800 videos and about 1,000 still images of child pornography inside one of Ayen's computers.
A preliminary examination of the other computers and compact discs found in Ayen's residence in the 3400 block of Howard Avenue indicated the total could rise to well over 3,000, Kharasch said.
He said Ayen had the videos and images organized into folders and sub folders and that most of the children depicted appear to be under the age of 7.
Karasch said Ayen gave investigators a statement in which he said he has been collecting child pornography for about 15 years.
Ayen was arrested Wednesday afternoon and has been charged thus far with five counts of aggravated possession of child pornography and a single count of possession of child pornography.
At a bond hearing Thursday morning, Ayen told Associate Judge Raymond Collins he is retired and lives on Social Security benefits with his disabled wife.
Assistant State's Attorney Mary Stanton asked Collins to set a $1 million bond because the investigation in Ayen's activities is not finished and additional charges are possible.
Public Defender Joy Gossman, citing Ayen's lack of prior criminal history, asked for a bond "considerably lower" than what Stanton had proposed.
When Collins set the figure at $500,000 and told Ayen he would need to post $50,000 in cash to be released, Ayen responded "I don't make that in a year."
Collins scheduled a preliminary hearing for Oct. 21 and ordered Ayen to appear in court Sept. 30 for a bond review.
He could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison if convicted of the current charges, Stanton said.
Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller said at the news conference he believes Ayen's cache of child pornography is the largest ever recovered in the county.