In November, authorities say, Dr. Hugo Alvarez took an external hard drive in for service at a computer store in Westmont. Two days later, police arrived at his doorstep with a search warrant.
Now Alvarez -- who has practiced internal medicine at Chicago-area hospitals for years -- is facing an aggravated child pornography charge that could land him in prison and end his career.
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The 46-year-old Willow Springs man appeared this week in DuPage County court, where defense attorney Tim Martin said Alvarez was on leave and "in treatment."
"Dr. Alvarez is an extremely well-regarded physician in the field of internal medicine and has provided nearly 20 years of extraordinary service to the community, including many of the disadvantaged," Martin said.
Alvarez came under investigation after he visited a Westmont computer store to have the contents of an external hard drive transferred to another drive in November, authorities said.
A short time later, employees at the store contacted police about "images they found to be disturbing" on the hard drive, Westmont Sgt. Mike Dale said.
Police searched Alvarez's home two days later, seizing several pieces of computer equipment. Authorities said they've turned over the items for further forensic analysis but that the initial investigation found hundreds of illegal photos and videos.
"I'm pleased that the local business brought this to our attention and we were able to follow up with a successful investigation," Dale said. "These are the kinds of things that stand out to the public because they are abhorrent to most people -- and the reason we do our jobs."
Alvarez has been medically licensed since 1995 and has never been disciplined, according to Susan Hofer of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
She said he would be required to work with a chaperon should he return to practice while his case is pending because he's charged with a felony that could result in him becoming a registered sex offender. His license would be permanently revoked if he's found guilty of a felony, Hofer said.
Alvarez works as an independent contractor for a variety of hospitals in the Chicago area and does not have his own practice, according to his attorney. He has no prior criminal history.
Martin declined to elaborate on the treatment his client is receiving.
"I am confident that we will be able to resolve this case with a favorable disposition for all parties involved," he said. "The parameters are yet to be determined, but I'm confident whatever is put in place will ensure the safety and security of all involved."
Alvarez is free on a $10,000 bond and returns to court in February. If convicted of aggravated child pornography, he could be sentenced to probation or up to seven years in prison.