South Florida bookkeeper sentenced to over 12 years in federal prison for support of international enterprise that operated sexually exploitive “child modeling” websites

 

Date: April 13, 2022

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

A Florida woman was sentenced today to 151 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for her work for and support of subscription-based sexually exploitative "child modeling" websites. The court also ordered the defendant to forfeit more than $2.2 million, as well as real property located in Weston, Florida.

According to court documents, Tatiana Power, aka Tanya Power of Weston, helped run the financial affairs 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. Power served as Vice President and part owner of Power Trading Inc., a Florida corporation used to control, operate and conceal the true nature of the Newstar Enterprise. From as early as 2009 through November 2019, Power served as Power Trading's (and thus the Newstar Enterprise's) bookkeeper. She oversaw Power Trading's QuickBooks, filed its annual corporate registration documents, managed its bank accounts, paid salaries, helped wire money to foreign co-conspirators, and advised co-conspirators on how to evade law enforcement and conceal the true nature of monetary transactions. She routinely assisted in transferring money and making payments for the Newstar Enterprise. From January 2009 until November 2019, Power and her now deceased husband, Kenneth Power, made more than $2.2 million from the Newstar Websites.

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

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 Case Number Charge(s) Status
Tatiana Power 8:21-cr-244-MSS-AAS Conspiracy to commit money laundering Pleaded guilty, sentenced to 12.5 years in prison
Kenneth Power 8:21-cr-00032-SDM-AAS Conspiracy to advertise child pornography; conspiracy to distribute child pornography Defendant deceased: case dismissed
Plamen Velinov 8:21-cr-342-VMC-SPF Conspiracy to advertise child pornography; conspiracy to distribute child pornography Indicted
Patrice Wilowski-Mevorah 8:21-cr-00206-MSS-TGW Conspiracy to commit money laundering 63 months in prison
Anthony Lee Kendall 8:21-cr-358-SCB-TGW Conspiracy to commit money laundering; promotion money laundering; concealment money laundering Defendant deceased
Mary Lou Bjorkman 8:21-cr-00227-SDM-AAS Conspiracy to commit money laundering Pleaded guilty, sentenced to 18 months in prison

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 (HSI) in Tampa and the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), with substantial assistance provided by the Criminal Division's Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, HSI offices in Fort Lauderdale, Athens, and the Hague, U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Sofia, Bulgaria, as well as IRS Criminal Investigation in Tampa.

"Powers was complicit in laundering money gained by the sexualization and exploitation of children," said HSI Tampa Special Agent in Charge John Condon. "HSI is committed to partnering with international law enforcement agencies to find those who exploit innocent children and bring them to justice."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Murray of the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorney Kyle Reynolds of the CEOS are prosecuting these cases.

This investigation benefited from foreign law enforcement cooperation and substantial assistance by the Republic of Bulgaria, Supreme Cassation Prosecution Office and National Investigation Service; International Legal Assistance Center (IRC), North-Holland Unit; and the Czech Republic, Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office, Czech Police. The Justice Department's Office of International Affairs provided assistance securing foreign evidence and its Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) provided capacity building assistance and mentoring.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.