- The Washington Times - Monday, February 28, 2005

The president and technical administrator of a Belarus-based Internet subscription firm pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court in Newark, N.J., to operating an international child pornography and money-laundering ring.

Yahor Zalatarou, 26, and Aliaksandr Boika, 30, both of Minsk, face 30 years in prison under terms of a plea agreement. Sentencing was set for June 6.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Jamie Zuieback said Zalatarou and Boika bring to nine the number of guilty pleas in the government’s case against the firm, known as RegPay, its principals and others who assisted in the operation.

The ICE-led probe resulted in more than 1,200 arrests of RegPay subscribers in the United States and around the globe.

Zalatarou pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport and ship via computer visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Boika pleaded guilty to conspiracy to advertise child pornography. Both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Ms. Zuieback said Zalatarou and Alexei Buchnev, another Belarusian named in a superseding indictment, were arrested at a Paris hotel restaurant in July 2003 after they were persuaded to travel to France in a ruse by federal agents investigating RegPay’s international pornography operation. Boika was arrested in Tarragona, Spain, in July 2003, while vacationing.

On Feb. 16, Buchnev pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport and ship by computer visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

Ms. Zuieback said RegPay ran a global Internet pornography business with thousands of paid memberships to dozens of Web sites featuring children. She said the company earned millions of dollars by processing credit card fees for more than 50 other Web sites.

The RegPay sites were operated from Belarus and “hosted” by Internet service companies in the United States and abroad. Zalatarou said RegPay admitted processing between $2.5 million and $7 million in credit card transactions for the sale of sites containing child pornography.

Both also admitted to conspiring in a money-laundering scheme with a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., credit card billing service, Connections USA Inc., to receive the RegPay membership fees. Connections USA and two of its officers, Eugene Valentine and Keith Czarnecki, pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges.

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