A former Fort Benning plumber originally arrested more than three years ago on state charges now faces federal child pornography charges and the possibility of life in prison after he was arrested Wednesday by the FBI.
John Przenkop, 46, of Columbus, made an initial appearance in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Hyles. Przenkop, who was originally charged in Muscogee County Superior Court more than three years ago for the same alleged offenses, was ordered to be held in custody until Friday’s 11 a.m. arraignment at the Columbus federal courthouse.
Przenkop, an overweight man in a T-shirt, baggy exercise shorts and tennis shoes without socks was escorted into the courtroom wearing leg chains. He does not have to enter a plea until Friday.
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.
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Attorney John Martin represented Przenkop in the brief hearing. When Przenkop was originally arrested in March 2010, he was represented by Martin and his late father, Frank Martin.
Przenkop has been free on $17,000 bond since April 23, 2010, on the Muscogee County charges. That bond was set by Muscogee County Superior Court Judge John Allen. Przenkop lost his civil service job at Fort Benning because of the initial arrest, Martin said.
Martin said he was told by federal agents that “there was basically no new information and no new violations.”
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.
“He’s the one who originally went to the police,” Martin said of Przenkop said. “He told them, ‘I am being extorted.’ Then they basically ended up arresting everybody.”
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.
Frank Martin said in 2010 his client met the girls through a mutual friend and not online. The only time he went online in connection with the case was to check the girls’ ages.