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German illusionist pleads guilty, ends Las Vegas porn trial

Associated Press Associated Press 17/11/2016 By KEN RITTER, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — A former Las Vegas Strip illusionist from Germany stopped his federal trial Thursday and pleaded guilty to charges that he acquired thousands of pornographic videos and images, including some depicting sex acts involving kindergarten-age boys.

Under the plea deal, Jan Rouven Fuechtener, 39, will face at least five years in a U.S. prison — and possibly as many as 30 years — for his convictions on felony child pornography possession, receipt and distribution charges.

His plea ended his trial during an FBI agent's testimony about items found in password-protected files on computer devices seized in January from the Las Vegas home Fuechtener shared with his husband, Frank Dietmar Alfter.

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

Prosecutors dropped a child pornography advertising charge against Fuechtener that carries a mandatory sentence of at least 15 years in prison.

Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro, who began hearing the non-jury trial on Monday, told Fuechtener he must register as a lifetime sex offender and pay $5,000 in restitution to each child sex assault victims who is identified.

As a German citizen, Fuechtener also is likely to be deported after prison. The judge set sentencing for March 16.

U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden noted the judge can consider all the evidence she heard at trial when she decides on a sentence.

He vowed that his office will aggressively investigate and prosecute child sex cases.

"The risk to our children from sexual predators is constant and continuing," Bogden said.

Defense attorney Jess Marchese said outside court that taking the plea deal instead of proceeding with trial was in Fuechtener's best interest.

The attorney also said he believed about 85 child sex victims had been identified, meaning Fuechtener could be on the hook for some $425,000 in restitution.

Fuechtener's lawyers previously said they intended to prove someone else accessed his internet accounts, and that he wasn't responsible for the videos and images the government said he collected.

But neither the lawyers nor Fuechtener ever made that argument in court.

Fuechtener performed as Jan Rouven. His show, "The New Illusions" at the Tropicana hotel-casino, closed following his arrest.

The case arose after 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.

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