TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – A series of charges and convictions were announced today in connection with an international enterprise based in Florida that operated subscription-based sexually exploitive “child modeling” websites.
According to court documents, Kenneth Power (deceased at 58, of Weston), was a principal member 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. Patrice Eileen Wilowski-Mevorah, 53, of Tampa, and Mary Lou Bjorkman, 58, of Lutz, recently pleaded guilty to laundering money for the Newstar Enterprise. Other members of the Newstar Enterprise resided in Europe. Kenneth Power’s wife, Tatiana “Tanya” Power, 41, of Weston, is currently pending trial on money laundering charges in connection with the Newstar Enterprise.READ MORE: Wingstop Could Soon Raise Its Own Chickens
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 child-victims, 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 6 years old in sexual and provocative poses, wearing police and cheerleader costumes, thong underwear, transparent underwear, revealing swimsuits, pantyhose, and miniskirts. 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.READ MORE: New Little Free Libraries Installed In City Of Tampa Parks
To date, four members of the Newstar Enterprise have been charged in connection with the Newstar Websites. See chart below for case statuses.
The Four members charged are:
- Tatiana Power charged with Conspiracy to commit money laundering; international promotion money laundering; concealment money laundering. Powers Faces a maximum penalty of 100 years.
- Kenneth Power charged with Conspiracy to advertise child pornography; conspiracy to distribute child pornography. Powers faces a maximum penalty of 60 years.
- Patrice Wilowski-Mevorah charged with Conspiracy to commit money laundering. Wilowski-Mevorah faces a maximum penalty of 20 years.
- Mary Lou Bjorman charged with Conspiracy to commit money laundering. Bjorman faces a maximum penalty of 20 years.
A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.MORE NEWS: Target Posts A Drop In Profit. Stock Plunges
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.