Major child porn distributor sentenced to 30 years

NEWARK, N.J. — A Ukrainian man who authorities said could be the most significant distributor of child pornography ever prosecuted in the U.S. was sentenced to 30 years in prison Tuesday for running a network of websites that catered to pedophiles around the world.

The sentence was part of a plea deal reached by the man, Maksym Shynkarenko, in early January, about five years after his arrest in Thailand and 18 months after his extradition to the U.S. He will likely be deported when he is released from prison.

“You have pleaded guilty to one of the most serious crimes imaginable in our culture as human beings,” U.S. District Judge William Walls told Shynkarenko on Tuesday. “I can’t think of anything more horrific.”

The indictment unsealed in 2012 claimed Shynkarenko traded in tens of thousands of hardcore pornographic images and videos that depicted children ranging from infants and toddlers to teenagers being graphically sexually assaulted or abused, in most cases by adults. He and his associates advertised the websites with names such as “Illegal.CP,” “The Sick Child Room” and “Hottest Childporn Garden.”

Though it was not divulged how much money Shynkarenko made from the websites, the U.S. attorney’s office said he was charging $79.99 for a 20-day subscription to a subscriber list that numbered in the thousands.

U.S. attorney’s office said Tuesday the investigation into a website that Shynkarenko operated between 2005 and 2008 has led to the criminal convictions of more than 600 U.S. residents in 47 states. The investigation was initiated after agents from the Newark division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, found the website through emails sent from a computer in Long Branch.

“Shynkarenko worked the supply side of a market that sells images of the most depraved, predatory abuse of children,” U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said.

Walls said he wouldn’t oppose a request by defense attorney Nicholas Wooldridge to have the approximately three-and-a-half years Shynkarenko was jailed in Thailand deducted from his 30-year sentence. The judge rejected Wooldridge’s argument that Shynkarenko deserved a greater reduction because of the deplorable conditions of Thai jails.

Shynkarenko spoke briefly in court Tuesday.

“I want to just say I regret my crime, and I am grateful for the chance to change my life,” he said.

Wooldridge characterized Shynkarenko as a “smart guy” who earned a degree from a technical college in Ukraine and who used his knowledge of computers to run the network of websites described in the indictment. He said Shynkarenko wasn’t involved in the production of child pornography.

Three victims who appeared in images disseminated by Shynkarenko filed claims against him, though one has since withdrawn the claim, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark McCarren said in court Tuesday. Shynkarenko has no assets, McCarren told the judge.

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