American Justice Notebook

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Bulgarian Convicted for Child Pornography While Under the Guise of “Child Modeling”

A federal jury convicted a Bulgarian national Monday for conspiracy to distribute images and videos depicting the sexual exploitation of young children, according to officials.

According to evidence presented at trial, Plamen Georgiev Velinov, 49, of Sofia, helped administer the Newstar Enterprise.

This internet-based business profited from the sexual exploitation of vulnerable children under the guise of “child modeling” through a collection of websites called the Newstar Websites.

Beginning in around 2006 and continuing until 2019, Velinov assisted the enterprise by selecting children to be featured on the Newstar Websites, editing images and videos on those websites, communicating with customers, setting prices for videos, activating new websites, and creating advertising banners.

teddy bear, camera, orchidsWhile chatting with a co-conspirator, Velinov described one child as “nuclear sexy,” underscoring his knowledge of the purpose of the websites.

Financial records show that U.S.-based co-conspirators transferred more than $400,000 to Velinov’s Bulgarian bank account in connection with the conspiracy. 

According to court documents in this case and related cases, the Newstar Enterprise, which was founded around 2005, built, maintained, hosted, and operated the Newstar Websites on servers in the United States and abroad.

To populate the Newstar Websites with content, Newstar Enterprise members sourced, enticed, solicited, and recruited males and females under the age of 18, many of whom were prepubescent, to use as “child models” for the Newstar Websites.

The Newstar Enterprise used the child victims to produce more than 4.6 million sexualized images and videos – including images and videos depicting children as young as six-years-old in sexual and provocative poses, wearing thong underwear, transparent underwear, revealing swimsuits, pantyhose, miniskirts, and costumes – that were distributed and sold through the Newstar Websites.

Most of the child victims were recruited from Ukraine, Moldova, and other nations in Eastern Europe and were particularly vulnerable due to their age and socio-economic status.

Newstar subscribers and customers of the Newstar Websites were from more than 100 different countries.

Images were freely available to the public to preview, but Newstar offered a paid subscription for greater access and more content.

The sale of Newstar content generated more than $9.4 million during the conspiracy.

To process, receive, and distribute this money, Newstar Enterprise leaders fraudulently opened merchant and bank accounts in the United States and laundered proceeds using a bogus jewelry company. 

Velinov was convicted of one count of conspiracy to advertise visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and one count of conspiracy to distribute such images. 

He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 18 and faces up to 50 years in prison. 

To date, six members of the Newstar Enterprise have been charged in connection with the Newstar Websites. The chart below shows the status of each case. 

Name Charge(s) Status
Tatiana Power Conspiracy to commit money laundering Pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison

 

Kenneth Power Conspiracy to advertise child pornography; conspiracy to distribute child pornography

 

Defendant deceased; case dismissed
Plamen Georgiev Velinov Conspiracy to advertise child pornography; conspiracy to distribute child pornography

 

Convicted after trial
Patrice Wilowski-Mevorah

 

Conspiracy to commit money laundering Pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 63 months in prison
Anthony Lee Kendall Conspiracy to commit money laundering; promotion of money laundering; concealment of money laundering

 

Defendant deceased; case dismissed
Mary Lou Bjorkman Conspiracy to commit money laundering Pleaded guilty and sentenced to 18 months in prison

Trial Attorney Kyle P. Reynolds of the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Karyna Valdes of the Middle District for Florida are prosecuting these cases.

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