By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press Writer
LEESBURG, Va. - A Virginia judge sentenced a spammer to nine years in
prison Friday in the nation's first felony prosecution for sending
junk e-mail, though the sentence was postponed while the case is
Loudoun County Circuit Judge Thomas Horne said that because the law
targeting bulk e-mail distribution is new and raises constitutional
questions, it was appropriate to defer the prison time until appeals
A jury had recommended the nine-year prison term after convicting
Jeremy Jaynes of pumping out at least 10 million e-mails a day with
the help of 16 high-speed lines, the kind of Internet capacity a
1,000-employee company would need.
Jaynes, of Raleigh, N.C., told the judge that regardless of how the
appeal turns out, "I can guarantee the court I will not be involved in
the e-mail marketing business again."
The prosecutor, Lisa Hicks-Thomas, said she was pleased with the
sentence and confident that the law would be upheld on appeal.
"We're satisfied that the court upheld what 12 citizens of Virginia
determined was an appropriate sentence; nine years in prison,"
Defense attorney David Oblon argued in court that nine years was far
too long given that Jaynes was charged as an out-of-state resident
with violating a Virginia law that had taken effect just two weeks
"We have no doubt that we will win on appeal," Oblon said outside
court. "Therefore any sentence is somewhat moot. Still, the sentence
is not what we recommended and we're disappointed."
Jaynes declined to talk to reporters. He remains under $1 million
Though Oblon has never disputed that his client was a bulk e-mail
distributor, he argued during the trial that the law was poorly
crafted and that prosecutors never proved the e-mail was
unsolicited. He also has said the law is an unconstitutional
infringement of free speech.
Under Virginia law, sending unsolicited bulk e-mail itself is not a
crime unless the sender masks his identity. Prosecutors brought the
case in Virginia because it is home to America Online Inc., the
leading Internet service provider.
Prosecutors have described Jaynes as among the top 10 spammers in the
world at the time of his arrest, using the name "Gaven Stubberfield"
and other aliases to peddle junk products and pornography. Prosecutors
say he grossed up to $750,000 per month.
The jury also convicted Jaynes's sister, Jessica DeGroot of Raleigh,
but recommended only a $7,500 fine. Her conviction was later
dismissed by the judge. A third defendant, Richard Rutkowski of Cary,
N.C., was acquitted of all charges.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
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