Prosecutors try to revive plea deal with child porn purveyor

U.S. & World

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — Less than two months after a judge rejected a plea deal, federal prosecutors say they have an agreement to resolve a case against a man whom they have described as the world’s largest purveyor of child pornography.

In a court filing Thursday, prosecutors notified U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang that they have reached a “proposed resolution” with Eric Eoin Marques for the judge to consider.

The one-page letter doesn’t disclose any terms. The court scheduled a telephone call on Tuesday for the judge to discuss the status of the case with prosecutors and defense attorneys.

During a May 12 hearing, Chuang rejected a plea agreement that called for Marques to be sentenced to 15 to 21 years in prison. The judge said he was inclined to give Marques a longer sentence for operating a web hosting service that enabled users to anonymously access millions of illicit images and videos, many depicting the rape and torture of infants and toddlers.

The judge criticized a provision of the plea deal that wouldn’t give Marques credit for six years he spent in custody in Ireland while fighting extradition after his 2013 arrest in Dublin. Chuang said he can’t tell the federal Bureau of Prisons to refrain from counting those years when Marques likely is entitled to get credit for that time. The judge said he isn’t prepared to impose a sentence of 15 to 21 years if Marques does get credit for those six years.

Marques can withdraw his guilty plea from last year if the judge departs from the sentencing range that prosecutors and defense attorneys recommend.

Marques, a 35-year-old dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland, was extradited to Maryland in March 2019, and pleaded guilty in February 2020 to conspiracy to advertise child pornography.

Investigators found what appeared to be more than 8.5 million images and videos of child pornography on a server that he operated, including nearly 2 million images that were new to authorities, according to a court filing that accompanied Marques’ guilty plea.

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