Porn spammer pleads guilty

A computer systems administrator pleads guilty to helping send pornographic spam e-mail.

A California man accused of managing the computer system used to send hundreds of thousands of pornography-related e-mail messages has pleaded guilty to violating a U.S. antispam law.

Kirk F. Rogers, 43, of Manhattan Beach, California, pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court in Arizona Tuesday to violating the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Rogers' plea is the second-ever U.S. conviction related to the transmission of obscene e-mail messages, the DOJ said.

Rogers agreed to forfeit money obtained in his spamming operation and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for a one-count violation of CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act). Sentencing is scheduled for June 5.

Rogers aided three other people in the transmission of numerous unsolicited e-mail messages containing graphic pornographic images, according to the plea agreement. Rogers developed and managed the computer system used to transmit the spam on behalf of others, the plea agreement said.

The people Rogers was accused of aiding were Jennifer R. Clason, 32, formerly of Tempe, Arizona; Jeffrey A. Kilbride, 39, of Venice, California; and James R. Schaffer, 39, of Paradise Valley, Arizona.

A federal grand jury in Phoenix returned a nine-count indictment against Kilbride, Schaffer and Clason on Aug. 25. The three were changed with two counts of fraud and related activity in connection with e-mail under the CAN-SPAM Act and one count of criminal conspiracy.

The indictment also charged Kilbride and Schaffer with two counts of interstate transportation of obscene material using an interactive computer service, two counts of interstate transportation of obscene material for the purpose of sale or distribution and one count of money laundering. Schaffer is also charged with operating pornographic Web sites that do not include statements describing the location of identification and other records for the performers portrayed on the sites.

The trial of Clason, Kilbride, and Schaffer is scheduled for May 2.

America Online Inc. received more than 600,000 complaints between Jan. 30 and June 9, 2004, from its users about e-mail that had allegedly been sent by the defendants' spamming operation, the DOJ said.

The indictment alleged that the spam sent by the defendants advertised pornographic Web sites in order to earn commissions for directing Internet traffic to these Web sites. Graphic pornographic images were embedded in the spam e-mail, the DOJ said. Four counts of the indictment charge felony obscenity offenses for such transmission of hard-core pornographic images of adults engaged in explicit sexual conduct.

Another defendant, Andrew Ellifson, 31, of Scottsdale, Arizona, pleaded guilty In February 2005 to one spamming count under the CAN-SPAM Act, and one count of criminal conspiracy.

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