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(Reuters) - The founder of a hardcore child pornography website appeared in a New Jersey court on child exploitation charges on Monday as part of a crackdown that led to convictions of 560 Americans in 47 states, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Maksym Shynkarenko, 33, of Kharkov, Ukraine, was charged in a 32-count indictment with using the website he founded and operates, "Illegal.CP," to distribute images of children as young as infants being sexually assaulted and abused.
He was extradited from Thailand, where he was arrested in January 2009, to face charges in U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey. His formal arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday.
"Shynkarenko profited from the unspeakable abuse of thousands of innocent children by selling access to their suffering through his website," New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement.
"The victimization of those children is refreshed with every download," Fishman said.
He was indicted on one count of conspiracy to transport and ship child pornography; 16 counts of transportation and shipment of child pornography; one count of conspiracy to advertise child pornography; 12 counts of advertising child pornography and one count each of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise and money laundering.
If convicted of all charges, he faces a possibility of life in prison.
A years-long investigation of Shynkarenko's website found that subscribers to the website included dozens of previously convicted sex offenders and uncovered evidence that numerous others were actively molesting children, Fishman said in a press release.
In total, more than 560 individuals nationwide from 47 states were convicted in connection with the site, and many already have been sentenced to prison. Among them was a Bible camp counselor in Vancouver, Washington, who produced pornographic videos of his minor siblings; a Dearborn, Michigan, man who videotaped himself molesting a 4-year-old child he was babysitting; and an Orlando, Florida, man who produced video of "sexual torture" of children, including "some of the most graphic and disturbing child pornography that has ever turned up on the Internet," according to a court ruling quoted by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Eric Walsh