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Ukrainian charged with child porn in New Jersey

New Jersey news from Eyewitness News
June 11, 2012 1:41:01 PM PDT
A Ukrainian man has been charged in the most significant distribution ring of child pornography ever investigated in the United States, federal authorities in New Jersey said Monday.

The U.S. Attorney's office says Maksym Shynkarenko a 33-year-old from Kharkov, Ukraine, founded and operated a Ukraine-based child pornography website that had customers around the world and has resulted in 560 convictions throughout the U.S. alone.

Authorities extradited Shynkarenko from Thailand over the weekend, where he had been in custody since his 2009 arrest during a vacation to that country. Paul Fishman, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, said Shynkarenko had been fighting extradition, which delayed the process.

Shynkarenko is charged in a 32-count indictment with child exploitation enterprise, advertising child pornography, transporting and shipping child pornography, and money laundering and other counts.

Much of the pornography that Shynkarenko allegedly dealt in depicted graphic sexual assaults and abuse of young children, in most cases by adults, Fishman said. His alleged network of websites were operational until 2008.

Prosecutors say Shynkarenko and two co-conspirators from the Ukraine and one from Russia advertised and operated numerous child porn websites and sold access to them to clients worldwide, including customers in New Jersey. They allegedly concealed the charges with innocuous business names, such as "Ad Soft," which served as fronts to conceal them from credit card companies.

Fishman says the ring's website operated under names including "Illegal.CP," ''The Sick Child Room," and "Hottest Childporn Garden."

"According to the indictment, Maksym Shynkarenko profited from the unspeakable abuse of thousands of innocent children by selling access to their suffering through his website," Fishman said. "Distributors and consumers of child pornography create a market for sexual assaults on children, where the victimization of those children is refreshed with every download."

The case is being brought in New Jersey because agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations division first located the site "Illegal.CP" in October 2005 during an investigation of an individual from Long Branch. The agents signed up for the site undercover, purchasing a 20 day subscription for $79.99. The site warned users that it was "considered illegal in all countries," advising users to say that someone had stolen their credit card information and used it, if ever questioned by police.

In addition to the convictions of the 560 American consumers from 47 states, people have been convicted in other countries, federal authorities said. Canada is the only other country prosecutors would name.

Federal authorities says those convicted included teachers, clergy, law enforcement, lawyers, doctors, coaches and others who came in regular contact with minors.

Shynkarenko, wearing glasses, a close-cropped haircut, and green prison scrubs made his first appearance Monday afternoon in a Newark federal court. Assistant Public Defender Linda Foster was appointed to represent him. Although a Ukrainian interpreter was sworn in to assist him, Shynkarenko answered a judge's questions in English as to whether he understood his rights. He's scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday.

He could face up to life in prison if convicted on all counts.

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