Federal judge orders Columbus man accused of child pornography production charges held without bond

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 19, 2013 

A U.S. magistrate judge on Friday ordered a Columbus man arrested on federal child pornography production charges to be held without bond.

John Przenkop, 46, of Columbus, was originally arrested more than three years ago on state charges related to videotaped sexual encounters police claim he had with two minor girls, but now faces federal charges that could land him in prison for the rest of his life.

The FBI arrested Przenkop on Wednesday. He has been held in the Lee County, Ala., Detention Center.

Przenkop’s attorney, John Martin, argued for bond, pointing out to Judge Stephen Hyles that Przenkop had been free on for more than three years on a $17,000 Superior Court bond set by Judge John Allen.

“For over three years, he has been in full compliance,” Martin said. “You have daily, weekly, yearly evidence that he is not going to be any type of risk to anybody.”

Przenkop is a former Fort Benning civil service plumber who graduated from Baker High School and owns a home in Columbus, Martin told the court. Several of Przenkop’s family and friends were in the courtroom at the Columbus federal building Friday.

“There is an overwhelming body of evidence that he won’t flee,” Martin said.

Przenkop was indicted July 11 by a federal grand jury and faces two counts of production of child pornography, which carry a 15- to 30-year sentence if convicted, two counts of transporting with the intent to have criminal sexual activity, which carry a 10-year to life sentence, and one count of transporting with the intent to engage in sexual conduct, which has a maximum sentence of 30 years. All of the charges carry a possible fine of $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Hyde pointed to the difference in the Superior Court charges Przenkop was facing and the federal charges.

“None of the state charges contained a potential life sentence,” Hyde said. “Considering the monetary amounts of the state charges and the considering the offenses he was charged with, the (bond) is shockingly low.”

Hyles said he must consider detention for Przenkop under federal law because both of the alleged victims in the case are minors.

In Superior Court, Przenkop was charged with two counts each of aggravated child molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes, pandering and child pornography.

The original charges came out of a sorted set of circumstances that have already led to the two girls Przenkop is accused of having sex with pleading guilty to prostitution in 2010 in Columbus Juvenile Court.

The girls’ mothers, both Phenix City women, have pleaded guilty in Superior Court to trying to extort money from Przenkop in return for keeping quiet about his relationship with their daughters. Both women were sentenced to five years probation and 200 hours of community service by Allen. The Ledger-Enquirer has not identified the mothers in order to protect the identity of the two girls.

According to Columbus Police, Przenkop videotaped his sexual encounter with the girls.

Przenkop thought the girls, both under 16 at the time, were legal age, Martin said.

Police allege Przenkop contacted the girls through an online social networking site and paid for sexual acts. He allegedly became acquainted with the girls on MySpace, where one of the girls listed her age as 18 and the other as 100, according to Columbus Recorder’s Court testimony back in 2010.

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