, The Associated Press 2005-04-08
A man convicted in the first U.S. felony prosecution for sending bulk e-mail _ known as spamming _ was sentenced to nine years in prison Friday, but the judge postponed the sentence while the case is appealed.Loudoun County Circuit Judge Thomas Horne said that because the law targeting bulk e-mail distribution is new and raises constitutional questions, it was appropriate to defer the prison time until appeals courts rule.
Jeremy Jaynes was convicted in November for using false Internet addresses to send mass e-mail ads through a server of Internet service provider America Online, or AOL.
A jury had recommended the nine-year prison term.
Virginia, where AOL is based, prosecuted the case under a law that took effect in 2003 barring people from sending bulk e-mail that is unsolicited and masks its origin.
Prosecutors said Jaynes used the Internet to peddle sham products and services such as a "FedEx refund processor."
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."
Lisa Hicks-Thomas, the prosecutor, said she was pleased with the ruling and confident that the law would be upheld on appeal.
Defense attorney David Oblon argued that nine years was far too long given that Jaynes, who is from North Carolina, was charged as an out-of-state resident with violating a Virginia law that had taken effect just two weeks before.
Prosecutors have said Jaynes was among the top 10 spammers in the world at the time of his arrest, using the name "Gaven Stubberfield" and other aliases to peddle junk products and pornography.
The jury had also convicted Jaynes' sister, Jessica DeGroot, but recommended only a $7,500 (euro5,850) fine. Her conviction was later dismissed by the judge. A third defendant was acquitted of all charges.