Defendant pleads guilty in porn spam case

A New Hampshire woman has pleaded guilty to charges related to sending pornographic spam.

A New Hampshire woman has pleaded guilty to spam-related charges in connection with a pornographic e-mail operation, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Monday.

Jennifer R. Clason, 33, of Raymond, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal conspiracy and two spamming counts under the CAN-SPAM Act, an antispam law passed by the U.S. Congress in 2003. Clason's plea is the third-ever conviction related to the transmission of obscene e-mail messages, the DOJ said.

Clason agreed to forfeit money obtained through the crimes and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each of the offenses, the DOJ said. Sentencing is scheduled for June 5 in U.S. District Court in Arizona.

According to the plea agreement, Clason conspired with two individuals in the transmission of numerous spam e-mail messages containing graphic pornographic images: Jeffrey A. Kilbride, 39, of Venice, California, and James R. Schaffer, 39, of Paradise Valley, Arizona. Clason created and transmitted the spam e-mail messages on behalf of Kilbride and Schaffer, the plea agreement said.

A federal grand jury in Phoenix returned a nine-count indictment against Kilbride, Schaffer and Clason in August 2005, charging the three with two counts of fraud and related activity under the CAN-SPAM Act and one count of criminal conspiracy, the DOJ said.

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 was also charged with one count of operating three pornographic Internet Web sites without including required statements detailing the identification of the performers portrayed on the Web sites, as is required by federal law.

The trial of Kilbride and Schaffer is scheduled for June 6.

America Online Inc. received more than 600,000 complaints between Jan. 30, 2004, and June 9, 2004, from its users regarding spam 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 those sites. Graphic pornographic images were embedded in each of the defendants' e-mail messages, DOJ said. Four counts of the indictment charged felony obscenity offenses for such transmission of hard-core pornographic images of adults engaged in explicit sexual conduct, the DOJ said.

The indictment further alleged that Kilbride and Schaffer created overseas companies to conceal their activities. Kilbride and Schaffer also utilized overseas bank accounts for the purpose of laundering and distributing the proceeds of the spamming operation, the indictment said.

Two other people, Andrew D. Ellifson, 31, of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Kirk F. Rogers, 43, of Manhattan Beach, California, have pleaded guilty to charges under the CAN-SPAM Act related to this spamming operation. Ellifson and Rogers are scheduled to be sentenced on June 5.

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