- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2006

The president and technical administrator of a Belarus-based company were sentenced yesterday in New Jersey to 25 years in prison in an Internet child-pornography operation that catered to thousands of subscribers worldwide.

U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh in Newark, N.J., also ordered that Yahor Zalatarou, 27, of Minsk, Belarus, president of Regpay Co. Ltd., and Aliaksandr Boika, 30, also of Minsk, the company’s technical administrator, each must pay a $25,000 fine and serve five years of supervised release on the completion of their prison terms.

Regpay and another credit-card-billing company — based in the United States — were named by a federal grand jury in New Jersey in 2004 in a global Internet child-pornography and money-laundering scheme involving thousands of paid memberships to about 50 pornography Web sites.

The Belarus firm and Connections USA in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., collected $3 million in credit-card memberships to various pornographic Web sites during a six-month period ending in August, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie in Newark said. Fifteen persons were arrested in New Jersey as part of the scheme, including a family physician, three previously convicted sex offenders, a campus minister, part-time teacher and church youth coordinator and an 85-year-old retired engineer.

According to the indictment, Regpay sold memberships to dozens of child-pornography Web sites, including four of its own. The chief executive officer of Connections USA pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark to conspiracy charges. Eugene Valentine, 38, of Hollywood, Fla., cooperated in the investigation.

In addition to the sentences, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Kadia H. Koroma said $1.15 million was seized and forfeited in the case. She said Zalatarou and Boika bring to nine the number of guilty pleas and sentences against Regpay, its principals and those involved in other companies that assisted in the operation.

Hundreds of subscribers to the Regpay-affiliated Web sites have been arrested in the United States and in countries acting on information from U.S. law enforcement, she said.

“Today’s sentencing should send a strong message throughout the world that this type of criminal behavior cannot and will not be tolerated,” said ICE special agent Kyle Hutchins, who heads ICE’s field offices in New Jersey.

Ms. Koroma said Zalatarou and Boika admitted that Regpay processed $2.5 million to $7 million in credit-card transactions for the sale of Web sites containing child pornography. She said Zalatarou also admitted that Regpay operated its own child-pornography Web sites with images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

In his guilty plea, she said, Boika admitted his involvement in the illegal sale of memberships to Web sites containing child pornography and that he and others at Regpay used computer hosting companies in the United States to maintain the child-pornography Web site in the United States and in foreign countries.

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