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Federal porn trial begins for German illusionist in Vegas

Associated Press Associated Press 14/11/2016 By KEN RITTER, Associated Press
FILE - This March 17, 2007, file photo, magician Jan Rouven presents the Floating Virgin during the dress rehearsal of a German TV show in Riesa, eastern Germany. A judge is due to begin hearing evidence Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, against Rouven, who faces the possibility of decades in prison and up to $1 million in fines on federal child pornography charges. (AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz, File) © The Associated Press FILE - This March 17, 2007, file photo, magician Jan Rouven presents the Floating Virgin during the dress rehearsal of a German TV show in Riesa, eastern Germany. A judge is due to begin hearing evidence Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, against Rouven, who faces the possibility of decades in prison and up to $1 million in fines on federal child pornography charges. (AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz, File)

LAS VEGAS — An attorney for an illusionist who was once a headliner on the Las Vegas Strip complained Monday that a prosecutor misstated facts when she told a judge that the defendant knew child pornography had been downloaded to computers at his home.

Jan Rouven Fuechtener's lawyers maintain that he's not responsible for thousands of videos and images the government says he collected, including some recordings depicting sex acts with kindergarten-age children.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro let prosecutor Elham Roohani proceed with her opening statement in a trial that has the 39-year-old Fuechtener possibly facing up to 90 years in prison and $1 million in fines on federal child pornography charges.

Testimony is expected to take several days.

Fuechtener has chosen to have the case heard by the judge in Las Vegas, not a jury. His defense attorneys — Jess Marchese, Ben Durham and Michael Sanft — postponed their opening statement until the government finishes presenting its case.

Outside court, Marchese said Fuechtener will likely testify, perhaps Wednesday, and his client "is looking to a positive resolution to this case."

"We believe someone else accessed his account," Marchese said of the computer files.

Fuechtener is a German citizen who performed as Jan Rouven. His show, "The New Illusions" at the Tropicana hotel-casino, closed following his arrest March 16.

He has pleaded not guilty to four felony charges — possession, receipt, distribution and advertising of child pornography. He has remained in federal custody awaiting trial, which was postponed several times.

Roohani told the judge Monday there was "no real dispute" that Fuechtener possessed about 9,000 videos that investigators reported finding in password-protected files on nine computer devices seized from various locations around the home Fuechtener shared with his husband, Frank Dietmar Alfter.

Alfter, who authorities say has returned to Germany, was named in a court document as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.

Prosecutors want the judge to consider recordings of jail telephone calls in which the two men are accused of conspiring to delete evidence from the computers.

Fuechtener was identified in August 2014 by an undercover investigator in Buffalo, New York, as a collector of internet pornographic material who used internet, Skype and email names including "Lars45," ''LarsUSA22" and Lars Schmidt, according to court documents.

Dennis Carry, a Washoe County sheriff's sergeant in Reno and a member of a multi-agency internet crimes against children task force, testified Monday as an expert in peer-to-peer file-sharing. Carry wasn't directly involved in the Fuechtener investigation. He described how users acquire and trade files.

The FBI agent in the case, Mari Panovich, said in a criminal complaint that Alfter told her that Fuechtener was the only one in their house who knew the passwords to the computers on which porn was found.

Panovich is also expected to testify.

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