A Columbus man at the center of a years-long web of extortion, prostitution and child pornography charges will spend 10 years in prison and the rest of his life under the supervision of the state.
John Przenkop, a 47-year-old former Fort Benning plumber, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land on Tuesday morning to 10 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release. If Przenkop is released, he will be required to register as a sex offender.
According to previous Ledger-Enquirer reports, police said Przenkop had in 2010 been paying two underage Phenix City girls, ages 14 and 15 at the time, for sex that he secretly filmed. Federal prosecutors said he met the girls on MySpace.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Solis has said that Przenkop drove the girls from Phenix City into Columbus on more than one occasion: once to a shopping mall and another time to a Japanese restaurant. Both trips ended at his Rice Street home.
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Authorities said that Przenkop paid the girls to let him perform oral sex on them.
Przenkop had sex with the girls multiple times in February 2010, investigators said. He had sex with one girl four times and had sex twice with the other, paying them $500 to $600.
When the girls’ mothers learned of this, they tried to extort Przenkop, who in turn notified police of the extortion.
“He’s the one who originally went to the police,” Przenkop’s attorney John Martin told the Ledger- Enquirer in 2013. “(Przenkop) told them, ‘I am being extorted.’ Then they basically ended up arresting everybody.”
Przenkop was first charged in Georgia after his arrest on March 12, 2010. He was charged in federal court on July 11, 2013 with five separate offenses, including production of child pornography.
A later search of Przenkop's residence uncovered video evidence of sexual encounters with other women, both adults and juveniles, prosecutors said.
Since his arrest, Przenkop has been charged with aggravated child molestation, production of child pornography, enticing a child for indecent purposes and pandering.
Both the girls and their mothers pleaded guilty to their crimes early in the investigation — the girls in 2010, their mothers in 2011.
As a resolution to all charges, Przenkop pleaded guilty on Feb. 3 to one count of transportation of minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
At Tuesday’s sentencing, Martin stressed his client’s strong work history and clean criminal background before “this one issue” of prostitution. Martin said that Przenkop had cooperated with both Columbus police and the FBI.
Solis spoke only once, to clarify that Przenkop's cooperation was identifying his victims.
In a statement to the court, Przenkop reiterated that his crimes were not committed against anyone’s will and that he had tried everything he could to make amends. Throughout the investigation, Przenkop has maintained he thought his victims were of consenting age.
Przenkop told the court that he spent a lot of time blaming other people for his imprisonment — blaming his lawyer, blaming God. But he said that he has come to accept responsibility for his actions and that he is truly sorry.
“Every time I look in the mirror, I look at a guilty person,” he said. “... It took me 12-13 months to realize, the only one who put me here is me.”