‘Spam King’ Could Face Up to 26 Years in Prison

Q Boyer
SEATTLE — Robert Soloway, the so-called “king of spam,” is facing up to 26 years in prison after pleading guilty on Friday to charges of mail fraud, fraud in connection with email and tax evasion.

The mail fraud count carries with it a penalty of imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000, the fraud in connection with email count adds on up to five more years of prison and another $250,000. Soloway also could face an additional year in prison and another $125,000 in fines relating to the tax evasion charge.

Soloway, who has already been hit with millions in civil judgments, including $7.8 million awarded to Microsoft in its civil suit against him, is scheduled to be sentenced for the criminal charges at a hearing on June 20.

Thus far, Soloway has managed to avoid paying the fines from the various civil judgments entered against him, reportedly boasting in a 2005 message board post, “[I have] been sued for hundreds of millions of dollars and have had my business running for over 10 years without ever paying a dime, regardless to the outcome of any lawsuits.”

Soloway was arrested last May and charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, fraud in connection with email, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.

“Spam is a scourge of the Internet, and Robert Soloway is one of its most prolific practitioners,” Jeffrey C. Sullivan, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington said at the time of Soloway’s arrest. “Our investigators dubbed him the ‘Spam King’ because he is responsible for millions of spam emails.”

In addition to the potential jail time and fines, Soloway must also forfeit any and all property that he obtained with proceeds from his criminal acts. Under the plea agreement entered Friday, Soloway must “provide a truthful statement regarding all of his assets,” a statement that will be subject to verification through a polygraph examination.

Speaking prior to the plea agreement, one of Soloway’s previous courtroom adversaries said that he hoped Soloway’s trial would serve as a warning to other spammers.

“There have not been a large number of criminal CAN-SPAM prosecutions in the U.S.,” Microsoft senior attorney Aaron Kornblum said in an interview last month. “This is significant.”