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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 3, 2021

Woman Who Laundered Over $2 Million for International ‘Child Modeling’ Websites Sentenced to More Than Five Years in Federal Prison

A Florida woman was sentenced today to five years and three months in prison for engaging in a money laundering scheme in connection with an international, subscription-based, sexually-exploitative enterprise based in Florida that operated “child modeling” websites. As part of her sentence, the court also ordered her to forfeit $236,410.70.

Patrice Eileen Wilowski-Mevorah, 53, of Tampa, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering on July 6. According to court documents, Wilowski-Mevorah laundered at least $2.3 million for the company known as Newstar Enterprise, which operated for-profit websites (the Newstar Websites) depicting sexual exploitation of vulnerable children under the guise of “child modeling.”

According to court documents, Wilowski-Mevorah joined the Newstar Enterprise around 2009 and fraudulently opened payment-processing and bank accounts under the pretense of a phony jewelry company. For 10 years, she routinely used the phony company’s accounts to conceal criminal proceeds from the Newstar Websites and transfer those proceeds back to principal members of the Newstar Enterprise. Wilowski-Mevorah continued to launder money for the enterprise until November 2019, when law enforcement authorities executed several search warrants across the United States and simultaneously seized the Newstar websites’ servers in the United States and Europe. Law enforcement officers then disabled the servers hosting the Newstar Websites.

Founded around 2005, the Newstar Enterprise built, maintained, hosted, and operated the Newstar Websites on servers in the United States and abroad. To populate website 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.” Using the recruited child-victims, the Newstar Enterprise produced more than 4.6 million sexualized images and videos to distribute and sell on their 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.

The Newstar Enterprise maintained a membership list for subscribers and customers who originated from 101 countries. 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 the bogus company. 

The chart below shows cases status for co-defendants also charged in the Middle District of Florida:

Newstar Enterprise Cases Status

Name

Case Number

Charge(s)

Status

Maximum Potential Total Penalty

Tatiana Power

8:21-cr-244-MSS-AAS

Conspiracy to commit money laundering; international promotion money laundering; concealment money laundering

Indicted, pending trial

 

100 years’ imprisonment

Kenneth Power

8:21-cr-00032-SDM-AAS

Conspiracy to advertise child pornography; conspiracy to distribute child pornography

Defendant deceased; case dismissed

60 years’ imprisonment

Plamen Velinov

8:21-cr-342-VMC-SPF

Conspiracy to advertise child pornography; conspiracy to distribute child pornography

Indicted, pending extradition

50 years’ imprisonment

Patrice Wilowski-Mevorah

8:21-cr-00206-MSS-TGW

Conspiracy to commit money laundering

Pleaded guilty, sentenced to five years’ and three months’ imprisonment

20 years’ imprisonment

Anthony Lee Kendall

8:21-cr-358-SCB-TGW

Conspiracy to commit money laundering; promotion money laundering; concealment money laundering

Indicted, defendant deceased

100 years’ imprisonment

Mary Lou

Bjorkman

8:21-cr-00227-SDM-AAS

Conspiracy to commit money laundering

Pleaded guilty, sentence pending

20 years’ imprisonment

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.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Karin Hoppmann for the Middle District of Florida; and Special Agent in Charge John Condon of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tampa made the announcement.

HSI Tampa and the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) investigated the case, with substantial assistance provided by HSI offices in Fort Lauderdale, Athens, the Hague, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Tacoma; U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Sofia, Bulgaria; IRS-Criminal Investigation in Tampa; and the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS).

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

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

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

Updated December 3, 2021