Three on Trial in Loudoun in Felony Spam Case

A North Carolina man and his two confederates illegally flooded America Online e-mail accounts in July 2003 with millions of advertisements hawking penny stocks and work-from-home schemes, Virginia prosecutors told jurors yesterday.

Jeremy Jaynes, his sister Jessica DeGroot and Richard Rutkowski, all of Raleigh, N.C., are on trial in Circuit Court in Loudoun County, where America Online is based, on charges of violating a Virginia anti-spam law that took effect last year. If convicted, each could face up to 15 years in prison and $2,500 fines.

Prosecutors have said the trial is the nation's first felony prosecution of spammers. It could point the way for future litigation in the fight against spam, which experts say accounts for more than 70 percent of e-mails and costs businesses $10 billion a year.

In their opening statements, defense attorneys said Internet marketing does not violate what they called a poorly written law.

As routers, a server and stacks of computer discs were tagged as evidence, attorneys on both sides tried to simplify for jurors the elements of a case fraught with ultra-technical language.

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News source: Washington Post

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