Man called largest child porn purveyor gets 27-year sentence

Sep 15, 2021, 1:13 PM | Updated: 4:31 pm
A reporter interviews acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner outside the federal courthouse in Green...

A reporter interviews acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner outside the federal courthouse in Greenbelt, Md., on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, after a judge sentenced Eric Eoin Marques to 27 years in prison. U.S. authorities have said Marques, 36, was the world's most prolific purveyor of child pornography when he was arrested in Ireland in 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Kunzelman)

(AP Photo/Michael Kunzelman)

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — A man described by U.S. authorities as the world’s most prolific purveyor of child pornography at the time of his arrest in Ireland was sentenced on Wednesday to 27 years in federal prison.

Eric Eoin Marques, 36, created and operated computer servers on the dark web that enabled users to anonymously access millions of illicit images and videos, many depicting the rape and torture of infants and toddlers. Law enforcement had never seen many of those images before finding them on Marques’ servers, according to prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang told Marques that his crimes were the equivalent of those of a drug kingpin.

“This crime was truly despicable,” Chuang said.

Prior to learning his sentence, Marques apologized to the victims and asked for mercy from the court.

“I have destroyed my reputation and my family’s reputation. Please give me a second chance,” he told Chuang.

The judge agreed to recommend that the federal Bureau of Prisons give Marques credit for eight years he has served in custody both in Ireland and the U.S. since his 2013 arrest. The judge also ordered him to pay restitution of $87,000 to victims of the child pornography that he helped distribute.

The original version of the plea agreement between Marques and prosecutors called for a prison sentence of 15 to 21 years.

Chuang rejected that deal during a hearing in May, calling it “too flawed” and saying he was inclined to give Marques a longer sentence than 15 to 21 years.

The revised agreement recommended a prison sentence between 21 and 27 years, but Chuang wasn’t bound by those terms.

Prosecutors recommended a 27-year sentence followed by lifetime supervision after his release, a requirement that Chuang also imposed.

Justice Department prosecutor Ralph Paradiso said Marques created an online community for sexual predators to anonymously abuse and exploit children and share the horrific images that they created.

“They all got together and they sexually exploited children,” he said. “They reveled in that sexual exploitation.”

Defense attorneys requested a 21-year sentence for Marques, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland. Marques can return to Ireland after he completes his prison sentence.

“There is no one in this courtroom who is not repulsed by what happened in this case,” said assistant federal public defender Brendan Hurson, one of Marques’ lawyers. “He will not do this again, and he is remorseful for what he has done.”

The original plea deal wouldn’t have given Marques credit for the time he spent in custody while fighting extradition after his 2013 arrest in Dublin. But Chuang criticized that provision. The judge said in May that he can’t tell the Federal Bureau of Prisons to refrain from counting those years when Marques likely was entitled to get credit for that time.

Marques pleaded guilty in February 2020 to creating and operating a web hosting service called “Freedom Hosting” on the darknet between 2008 and 2013. The darknet is part of the internet but hosted within an encrypted network. It is accessible only through anonymity-providing tools.

Investigators found what appeared to be more than 8.5 million images and videos of child pornography on the Freedom Hosting server, according to a court filing that accompanied Marques’ guilty plea.

Marques was living in Ireland at the time of the offenses. He was extradited to Maryland in March 2019. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to advertise child pornography.

In an April court filing, a prosecutor said a government witness was prepared to testify that investigators had identified Marques as the largest purveyor of child pornography in the world and that he had made approximately $3.6 million in U.S. currency from his servers.

Marques’ lawyers say he made money from his legitimate web-hosting services, not Freedom Hosting.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner said Marques caused “unspeakable damage” to children.

“This is the first case that I’m aware of where we went to the seeds of the trade, the main engine driving so much of the illegal child pornography trade globally,” he said.

Chuang told Marques that he hopes he reads the written statements submitted by his victims.

“It is heartbreaking to see what has happened to these individuals,” the judge said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, left, greets at the beginning of a meeting with his party me...
Associated Press

Japan PM to name new Cabinet, shifting some over church ties

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is set to reshuffle his Cabinet on Wednesday in a move seen as trying to distance his administration from controversial ties to the Unification Church following former leader Shinzo Abe’s assassination. The Cabinet renewal will be the second in just 10 months since Kishida took office. He […]
22 hours ago
In this combination of photos from video provided by ESPN, pitcher Kaiden Shelton (29), of Pearland...
Associated Press

Beaned Little League batter rises to console upset pitcher

WACO, Texas (AP) — A Little League batter rose from a beaning to console the upset pitcher in a dramatic scene at a Little League regional tournament game Tuesday in Waco, Texas. The incident happened during a Little League Southwest Regional Playoff final. Righthander Kaiden Shelton of Pearland, Texas, was facing batter Isaiah Jarvis of […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Gas prices are displayed at a Sunoco gas station along the Ohio Turnpike near Youngstown, Oh...
Associated Press

US inflation will likely stay high even as gas prices fall

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans may finally be catching a break from relentlessly surging prices — if just a slight one — even as inflation is expected to remain painfully high for months. Thanks largely to falling gas prices, the government’s inflation report for July, to be released Wednesday morning, is expected to show that prices […]
22 hours ago
FILE -- Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Leora Levy talks to delegates at the State Republican ...
Associated Press

Trump-backed Levy wins GOP Senate primary in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Leora Levy, a first-time political candidate who received a late endorsement from former President Donald Trump, won the Connecticut Republican primary for U.S. Senate in an upset Tuesday that could signal a shift for the state GOP after years of backing moderates. A socially conservative member of the Republican National Committee, […]
22 hours ago
Recent college graduate Liu Qian walks along a street in Beijing, Thursday, July 7, 2022. Liu is on...
Associated Press

China’s youth face bleak job market as COVID slows economy

BEIJING (AP) — Liu Qian, job-hunting with a new master’s degree, said two employers interviewed her and then said the positions had been eliminated. Others asked her to take lower pay. She is one of 11 million new graduates desperate for work in a bleak job market as anti-virus controls force factories, restaurants and other […]
22 hours ago
FILE - A man holds a sign urging increased access to the monkeypox vaccine during a protest in San ...
Associated Press

US will stretch monkeypox vaccine supply with smaller doses

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials on Tuesday authorized a plan to stretch the nation’s limited supply of monkeypox vaccine by giving people just one-fifth the usual dose, citing research suggesting that the reduced amount is about as effective. The so-called dose-sparing approach also calls for administering the Jynneos vaccine with an injection just under […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Man called largest child porn purveyor gets 27-year sentence