A Weblog About Topics and Issues Discussed in the Book Spam Kings by Brian McWilliams

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December 22, 2004

Judge rejects guilty plea by ex-AOL employee

Jason Smathers Looks like Jason Smathers will be spending the holidays in California, rather than in a New York prison.

Smathers' attorney and U.S. prosecutors had worked out a plea deal and just needed sign-off Tuesday from District Judge Alvin Hellerstein. But the judge surprised everyone by saying he didn't like the deal. The judge reportedly wants the U.S. attorney's office to submit a legal brief by January 12 with more information about Smathers' alleged violation of the CAN-SPAM law.

While prosecutors go back to the drawing board, Smathers will apparently be enjoying some sun and R&R. Earlier this month, the court granted him permission to travel to California through January 10.

Now, I am not a lawyer, but that seems like a strange privilege to grant to a guy who, in November, signed a document, available here , saying he agreed to plead guilty to violating 18 USC 2314, Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property. (To this legal sparrow, that seems like an appropriate charge.)

Then, on December 2, Smathers was arraigned instead for violating 18 USC 371, Conspiracy to Defraud the US Government. Smathers pled NOT guilty at the arraignment.

Confusing. Then we have Tuesday's proceedings, with Smathers trying to enter a guilty plea, apparently to violating CAN-SPAM.

An "information" document filed at his arraignment does suggest Smathers was involved in sending decepetive and misleading spam using the AOL customer list. So maybe there is a CAN-SPAM aspect to this case.

But it really does look like the US Attorney's office was trying too hard to get a CAN-SPAM conviction under its belt.

Posted by brian at December 22, 2004 11:05 AM


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