TAMPA, FL – According to a press release from the Department of Justice from earlier in December, a 53-year-old woman from Tampa was sentenced to five years and three months in federal prison for being involved in a money laundering scheme that benefitted “subscription-based sexually exploitative ‘child modeling’ websites.”
On December 3rd, 53-year-old Patrice Eileen Wilowski-Mevorah was handed down her sentence following her entering a guilty plea in July of 2021 for “her involvement in a money laundering conspiracy in connection with an international enterprise that was based in Florida.”
Outside of the slightly over five years of prison Wilowski-Mevorah will have to serve, she was also ordered to pay $236,410.70 in related fines regarding her criminal offenses.
From 2009 to 2019, Wilowski-Mevorah had laundered approximately $2.3 million for the Newstar Enterprise, which was internet-based company focused profiting off of the sexual exploitation of minors under the pretense of “child modeling” through the various Newstar websites.
Under the guise of a fictitious jewelry company, Wilowski-Mevorah illegally created payment-processing accounts and bank accounts. She leveraged the bogus company’s accounts to hide illegal profits generated from the Newstar websites and then transferred those revenues back to the Newstar Enterprise’s principal members during those ten years.
The criminal exploits came to a halt in November of 2019 after law enforcement officials executed various search warrants throughout the United States and concurrently confiscated the Newstar websites’ servers in the United States and Europe. Furthermore, the servers hosting the Newstar websites were then deactivated by law enforcement.
Newstar Enterprise, which was reportedly established back in 2005, had “sourced, enticed, solicited, and recruited males and females under the age of 18, some of whom were prepubescent, to use as ‘child models’ for” for a means of profitable content on their series of websites.
In the DOJ press release, it was noted that during the period of operation, “Newstar Enterprise produced more than 4.6 million sexualized images and videos to distribute and sell” online. While the DOJ noted that the images and videos of these minors were “non-nude”, videos and images hosted on the site “depicted minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.”
One such example provided by authorities said that children as young as 6-years-old would be featured on the websites engaged “in sexual and provocative poses, wearing police and cheerleader costumes, thong underwear, transparent underwear, revealing swimsuits, pantyhose, and miniskirts.”
Many of the exploited children featured on the websites had reportedly come from “Ukraine, Moldova, and other nations in Eastern Europe” where the vulnerability of these victims was heightened due to circumstances of “family dynamics and poverty.”
Numerous other defendants have been indicted in the investigation into Newstar Enterprise, which two of those previously indicted – Kenneth Power and Anthony Lee Kendall – had their cases dropped due to them now being deceased.
Tatiana Power and Plamen Velinov are still pending trial, whereas Mary Lou Bjorkman has since pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing for conspiracy to commit money laundering.