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Russian citizen agrees to plea deal for running worldwide spam network


MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - A citizen of Russia who was charged in Milwaukee with running a major worldwide computer spamming network has avoided prison time in a plea deal.

Newly-released documents show that 25-year-old Oleg Nikolaenko agreed last June to plead guilty to new charges that would have netted him 9 years in prison.

But eventually, prosecutors agreed to limit his jail time to the 27 months he served since his arrest. And he’ll spend the next 3 years on probation.

Authorities said Nikolaenko’s network placed malicious codes on a half-million U.S. computers, and then sent out billions of e-mails selling things like fake Viagra and counterfeit Rolex watches.

On some days, officials said the network accounted for a-third of the world’s unwanted e-mails.

A Milwaukee FBI agent cracked the case, after a Kansas City man complained of having to spend $2 million to advertise fake watches on the network.

Nikolaenko was arrested in the fall of 2010 in Las Vegas, where he was attending a car show. But no others came forward to complain – and officials did not consider restitution.