Crime

Convict Francis Sharrak Runs Porn Sites, Strip Clubs from Prison Cell Computer

Francis Sharrak managed his multimillion-dollar web porn and strip club business using just a laptop computer and a telephone from his prison cell inside the Wayne County Jail in Detroit, Michigan for 18 months.

Sharrak was awaiting sentencing on federal tax evasion charges when he was locked up in August 2010. However, health problems and court for delays kept him there until May 2012, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Sharrak was serving as his own lawyer and asked for the laptop computer to prepare his arguments for court, but also used the computer to run his businesses.

Sharrak told a friend in a recorded phone call from his jail cell in January 2011: "Now, I am the first one ever to have a computer in the history of this jail."

The sheriff's office, which runs the jail, is accused of giving wealthy and politically-connected inmates "VIP treatment."

Sheriff officials acknowledge that Sharrak had the computer, but denied any systemic problem. The department also has changed policies to avoid a repeat in the future, though it declined to detail the policy changes.

Undersheriff Daniel Pfannes told the Detroit Free Press: "We were misled initially by an employee who said there was a court order giving him access to a laptop computer."

Sharrak reportedly had access to his privately owned personal computer, with Internet, a camera, photo, video, text and e-mail capabilities and software programs such as Skype.

Federal prosecutors didn't file criminal charges against Sharrak for his jailhouse web activities, but did ask the judge to consider them during sentencing.

On April 30, 2012, Sharrak was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered him to pay $4.2 million in restitution. Sharrak is serving his sentence in a federal prison in Morgantown, W.Va.

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