A 55-year-old Mossyrock man has been charged with money laundering and conspiracy in connection with what the U.S. Department of Justice has labeled “sexually exploitive child modeling websites.”
In addition to charges against Anthony Lee Kendall, Bulgarian national Plamen Georgiev Velinob has been charged with conspiring to advertise and distribute child pornography in connection to the Florida-based enterprise.
Kendall is accused of laundering about $1 million for the enterprise, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Velinov was arrested Monday in Sofia, Bulgaria, by officers from the Bulgarian National Investigative Service and the Sofia Metropolitan Police at the request of the United States. Kendall was arrested Monday In Washington.
If convicted, Velinov faces a minimum mandatory penalty of 15 years in prison for conspiring to advertise child pornography, a minimum five years in prison for conspiring to distribute child pornography, and a total maximum penalty of 50 years in prison for both offenses. The indictment also notifies Velinov that the United States intends to forfeit more than $434,000 in assets that are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offenses.
If convicted, Kendall faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each count of the five-count money laundering charges in the indictment. The indictment also notifies Kendall that the United States intends to forfeit $944,678 in assets that are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offenses.
According to court documents, Velinov assisted with directing and controlling the foreign functions of the Newstar Enterprise — an internet-based business aimed at for-profit sexual exploitation of vulnerable children under the guise of “child modeling” through a collection of websites called the Newstar Websites. Velinov helped maintain and update the Newstar Websites.
Kendall allegedly performed financial functions essential to the Newstar Enterprise. Kendall fraudulently opened payment processing, merchant and bank accounts for the Newstar Enterprise and facilitated, conducted and concealed monetary transactions involving approximately $1 million in revenue from the Newstar Websites.
Kenneth Power, deceased at 58, of Weston, Florida, was a principal member of the Newstar Enterprise who directed and controlled its operations. Patrice Eileen Wilowski-Mevorah, 53, of Tampa, and Mary Lou Bjorkman, 58, of Lutz, Florida, recently pleaded guilty to laundering money for the Newstar Enterprise. Kenneth Power’s wife, Tatiana “Tanya” Power, 41, of Weston, is currently pending trial on money laundering charges in connection with the Newstar Enterprise. Other members of the Newstar Enterprise resided in Europe.
According to court documents, founded around 2005, the Newstar Enterprise 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, some of whom were prepubescent, to use as “child models” for the Newstar Websites. Using the recruited children, the Newstar Enterprise produced more than 4.6 million sexualized images and videos to distribute and sell on the Newstar Websites. Some of those images and videos, though non-nude, depicted minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
“For example, images and videos sold on the Newstar Websites depicted children as young as six years old in sexual and provocative poses, wearing police and cheerleader costumes, thong underwear, transparent underwear, revealing swimsuits, pantyhose, and miniskirts,” according to the Department of Justice. “Most of the child-victims — recruited from Ukraine, Moldova and other nations in Eastern Europe — were particularly vulnerable due to their age, family dynamics and poverty. Law enforcement officers have disabled the servers hosting the Newstar Websites.”
The Newstar Enterprise maintained a membership list for subscribers and customers of the Newstar Websites, who originated from 101 nations across the world. Images in the websites’ galleries were freely available to the public to preview, but greater access and more content required purchasing a subscription. The sale of purported “child modeling” content on the Newstar Websites generated more than $9.4 million during the course of the conspiracy. To process, receive and distribute this money, Newstar Enterprise members fraudulently opened merchant and bank accounts in the United States and laundered proceeds using a bogus jewelry company.
To date, six members of the Newstar Enterprise have been charged in connection with the Newstar Websites..
The defendants have also been notified that the United States intends to forfeit a total of $9.4 million, which are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offenses, in addition to real property located in Florida.
These cases were investigated by Homeland Security Investigations in Tampa and the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), with substantial assistance provided by Homeland Security Investigations offices in Fort Lauderdale, Athens and the Hague, U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Sofia, Bulgaria, as well as the IRS Criminal Investigation in Tampa.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Murray of the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorney Kyle Reynolds of the CEOS are prosecuting these cases.