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CA- Body at fire scene ID'd as suspect in child porn case

4-5-2008 California:

A Los Gatos businessman facing child pornography charges was found dead in a car inside a building gutted by a four-alarm fire early Friday morning in northeast San Jose.

As of late Friday, the Santa Clara County Coroner's Office had not named the man.

But MediaNews has learned he was George Wayne Halldin, 58. Police suspect he killed himself inside his car sometime before 4:55 a.m., when a fire erupted in a two-story building at 850 Faulstich Court, off Oakland Road, a short distance from Highway 101 and Interstate 880.

Fire officials would not discuss a possible cause of the fire.

According to court records, Halldin was facing three felony counts of distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography. The charges were filed in February based on pornographic photos allegedly found on Halldin's laptop computer in one of his Fremont offices.

If convicted, he could have faced a minimum of five years in prison, authorities have said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eumi Choi said Halldin had been scheduled to show up in court in San Jose at

11 a.m. Friday for a bail revocation hearing because he allegedly violated terms of his release. She did not elaborate.

Federal public defender Nicholas Humy did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Halldin's estranged wife, who left him after she found out about the pornography case and who asked not to be identified, declined to comment through a friend.

But the friend confirmed that the body was Halldin's.

A neighbor and employee had only nice things to say about the man who owned several companies.

Ruth Achziger, 84, said she has lived next door to Halldin for nearly two decades on Longwood Drive in Los Gatos. The coroner and police knocked on her door about 10:30 a.m. Friday, asking where they could find Halldin's wife, to alert her that he was dead, Achziger said.

"They are the nicest people," Achziger said. "I saw George on Easter and said, 'Happy Easter' and he said, 'Same to you.'"

Ruben Lopez, an employee of the burned business, Enclosures Engineering, said he started working for Halldin at $25 an hour a few months ago, making small plastic parts for computers.

Lopez said he had no idea his boss was in any legal trouble.

"He didn't talk to me about his personal life," Lopez said. "I never had no problem with him. He was easygoing. ... I didn't know anything about his life."

Fire Capt. Craig Schwinge would not say much about the blaze, other than there were a "lot of moving parts" and "more information will probably come out next week."

Arson investigators began working the scene early in the day, as 60 firefighters fought the blaze, which collapsed the roof and forced crews to douse the flames from outside the building on ladder trucks.

Passers-by from several miles away could see plumes of black clouds from Interstate 880, and motorists who rolled down their windows could easily smell the smoke.

The property at 850 Faulstich Court was valued by the Santa Clara County Assessor at $3.8 million, including $2.2 million for the building, according to the assessor's Web site. ..Source.. by Lisa Fernandez

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