Prenda Law's John Steele Sentenced to 60 Months for Fraud

Prenda Law's John Steele Sentenced to 60 Months for Fraud

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Federal judge Joan Ericksen has sentenced Prenda Law’s John Steele today to 60 months in prison for fraud.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald of the District of Minnesota announced Steele’s sentence today. The initial investigation was conducted by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigations.

Steele pleaded guilty on March 6, 2017. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,541,527.37. Steele and former partner Paul Hansmeier reportedly obtained approximately $3 million from fraudulent copyright lawsuits.

Hansmeier was sentenced to 14 years in prison last month.

As XBIZ has extensively reported, Florida attorney Steele, along with Prenda partners Hansmeier and Paul Duffy, “created a series of fake entities through which they obtained copyrights to pornographic movies, some of which they filmed themselves and then uploaded the films to file sharing websites to lure others to download them.”

The attorneys, according to our previous report “would then file fake copyright infringement lawsuits, concealing their own roles in the distribution of the films. Steele admitted to investigators he and Hansmeier would threaten the individuals involved in the fake lawsuits with financial penalties and public embarrassment if they didn't agree to pay a settlement fee.”

“While John Steele assumed an equal partnership in the settlement mill,” last month’s sentencing document for Hansmeier read, “Steele primarily handled the business side of operations — interacting with clients, organizing business entities, collecting payments, producing movies and paying bills. Steele was the brash frontman whose false bravado and half-truths drew the ire of defense attorneys and judges, but witnesses repeatedly identified Hansmeier as the Machiavellian presence behind the scenes directing the creation and dissemination of false statements to courts.”

“It is almost incalculable how much your abuse of trust has harmed the administration of justice,” Judge Ericksen said during Hansmeier’s sentencing

For more on John Steele's sentencing, visit the Department of Justice website.

Copyright © 2023 Adnet Media. All Rights Reserved. XBIZ is a trademark of Adnet Media.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.

More News

New Report Warns Against 'Rising Tide' of Conservative Censorship

A new report published last week by the Chamber of Progress, a U.S. trade group representing many of the leading technology companies, issued an urgent warning against the “rising red tide” of digital censorship promoted by conservatives.

ACLU, FSC Raise Objections to Senate's New Section 230-Busting Bill

An ACLU-led coalition of civil rights groups and groups representing LGBTQ+ individuals, sex workers, journalists and libraries issued an open letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warning against the Strengthening Transparency and Obligations to Protect Children Suffering from Abuse and Mistreatment (STOP CSAM) Act.

Mercedes Carrera Pretrial Date Postponed Again

The criminal trial of Mercedes Carrera and her husband on multiple child sexual abuse charges has been postponed again.

Maggie MacDonald's New Video Demystifies the Adult Platform Business

Information technology researcher Maggie MacDonald released a video Friday explaining “how content creation, algorithms, media amplification and panicky policy have shaped how porn looks today.”

Rome Major Launches New Paysite 'MajorHotWife'

Performer and content creator Rome Major has launched a new paysite,

North Carolina Republican Sneaks Copycat Age Verification Amendment Into Unrelated Bill

The North Carolina Senate voted unanimously Thursday to mandate age verification on adult websites, after a Republican senator snuck a copycat amendment mirroring other states’ requirements into an unrelated bill.

Cryptic 5th Circuit Decision Throws Texas Age Verification Controversy Into Chaos

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday issued an administrative stay of the injunction against enforcement of Texas’ controversial age verification law, which mandates that adult websites post anti-porn propaganda.

Conservative Crusader Reveals Plan to Use Civil Lawsuits to Ban Adult Content Online

The leader of the American Principles Project (APP), a well-funded, anti-porn conservative lobby, said Wednesday that the ultimate aim of the age verification laws currently being passed in various states is to create a private right of action, so that parents could directly sue online companies if their children are able to access adult content.

Court Blocks California's Controversial 'Age-Appropriate Design Code Act'

A federal judge on Monday issued an injunction blocking the California attorney general from enforcing the controversial California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (CAADCA), which was passed last year after lobbying from a British baroness.

CAM4 Launches Creator Platform FAN5

CAM4 has launched its new subscription-based fan platform, FAN5.

Show More