Two North Carolinians yesterday became the first people in the nation to be convicted on felony spamming charges, the Washington Post reports. A jury in Loudoun County, Va., near Washington, D.C., ound that they flooded tens of thousands of America Online e-mail accounts with unsolicited e-mail. Jeremy Jaynes, 30, and his sister Jessica DeGroot, 28, both of the Raleigh area, were found guilty of three felony charges each for using phony Internet addresses to send large volumes of e-mail ads through an AOL server in Loudoun. The jury recommended that Jaynes spend nine years in prison and that DeGroot pay $7,500 in fines for violating Virginia’s anti-spam law.
Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, whose office prosecuted the case, called the convictions a victory in the fight against spam, which may account for more than 70 percent of e-mails and costs businesses $10 billion a year to filter or block. David Oblon, Jaynes’s attorney, maintained that the state had not proved that Jaynes sent e-mails to people who did not ask for them. “The jury found evidence that just wasn’t there,” Oblon said. “And the amount of the sentence is just jaw-dropping. People who commit robbery don’t get nine years. This is not a crime of violence.”