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Ex-Lake Forest Planning Commission Member Arrested In Child-Porn Probe

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textalerts180 Ex Lake Forest Planning Commission Member Arrested In Child Porn Probe

LAKE FOREST (CBSLA.com) — A former Planning Commission member for the city of Lake Forest faces charges of possessing and distributing child pornography, authorities said Monday.

Jerry Zechmeister, 61, of Lake Forest was taken into custody Thursday by investigators from the Orange County Child Exploitation Task Force, along with special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and detectives from the Newport Beach Police Department, officials said.

Investigators said they found about 160 videos depicting child pornography after seizing three computers and two external hard drives in an October 2013 raid.

Zechmeister had accessed and shared the child-exploitation images using file-sharing networks on his personal computer for close to seven years, authorities said.

“Child pornographers are collectors. They share with like-minded individuals on the Internet,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles.

Zechmeister resigned from his Planning Commission seat in November 2013 for “personal reasons.”

He’s out of custody on $20,000 bail.

An arraignment hearing is scheduled for July 31.

Neighbors told KCAL9’s Stacey Butler that Zechmeister owns a Lake Forest business and has been married for more than 20 years.

They said he and his wife often vacation with groups of neighbors and their children.

Residents said they’ve never seen him act inappropriately.

“I’m speechless, really, about it. I’m totally surprised. I think something’s wrong. I’ve known him for so long. I’ve known him 11 years, and it’s never come up; nothing like that ever gets talked about,” a neighbor said.

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