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A man convicted in the nation’s first felony case against illegal spamming was sentenced to nine years in prison Friday for bombarding Internet users with millions of junk e-mails. Prosecutors said Jeremy Jaynes used the Internet to peddle pornography and sham products and services such as a “FedEx refund processor,” and at the time of his arrest was considered among the top 10 spammers in the world. Thousands of people fell for his e-mails, and prosecutors said Jaynes’ operation grossed up to $750,000 per month. Jaynes, 30, was convicted in November for using false Internet addresses and aliases to send mass e-mail ads through an AOL server in Loudoun County, Va., where America Online is based. Under Virginia law, sending unsolicited bulk e-mail itself is not a crime unless the sender masks his identity. The judge delayed the start of the prison term while the case is appealed. Loudoun County Circuit Judge Thomas Horne said that because the law targeting junk e-mail is new and raises constitutional questions, it was appropriate to defer prison time until appeals courts rule. A jury had recommended the nine-year term for the North Carolina man. Prosecutor Lisa Hicks-Thomas said she was pleased with the ruling and confident that the law would be upheld on appeal. But defense attorney David Oblon argued 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 weeks before. “We have no doubt that we will win on appeal, therefore any sentence is somewhat moot. Still, the sentence is not what we recommended and we’re disappointed,” Oblon said outside court. Jaynes 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.” He remains under $1 million bond. The jury also convicted Jaynes’s sister, Jessica DeGroot, 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 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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