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Authorities: Jailed Man Ran Internet Porn Business Behind Bars

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Authorities say a jailed adult entertainment consultant convicted of tax evasion was able to manage his business for more than 18 months in Detroit using a laptop computer in his cell and jail telephones.

Francis Sharrak, 44, of Farmington Hills, was locked up in a cell for high-profile inmates in Wayne County, awaiting sentencing on federal tax evasion charges in August 2010. Health problems and numerous requests for delays kept him there until May 2012.

Sharrak was serving as his own lawyer and asked for the laptop to prepare arguments for his federal court sentencing. But, he wasn’t supposed to have the computer.

According to court records, Sharrak said he “had illegitimate access in his jail cell to a privately owned personal computer equipped with Internet access, a camera, photo, video, text and e-mail capabilities, and the ability to communicate by voice and video over the Internet through software programs such as Skype.”

Sharrak allegedly used the computer to operate and promote adult websites. Authorities say he also used a jail telephone to discuss management decisions at strip clubs where he was a consultant – including Platinum Show Girls in Toledo and Spanky’s Club in Dayton, Ohio – and how to move money around.

Undersheriff Daniel Pfannes acknowledged that Sharrak had the computer, calling it an isolated case.

“We were misled initially by an employee who said there was a court order giving him access to a laptop computer,” Pfannes told The Detroit News.

Pfannes said that employee has since been fired and the department has changed policies to avoid a repeat in the future, although he declined to detail the policy changes or name the employee.

On March 8, the sheriff’s department seized Sharrak’s computer. Sharrak filed a motion to get it back, saying he’d had it since August 2010 and that it was essential to his defense. A federal judge denied the request.

Sharrak wasn’t charged for any of his jailhouse activities, but prosecutors did ask a judge to consider them at sentencing. Federal prosecutors said Sharrak deserved a high-end sentence because he failed to learn his lesson and repeatedly broke the rules while locked up.

“Through his past conduct as proven at trial, and his apparently continuing conduct of the same nature, even while confined, defendant has shown that he simply refuses to abide by laws, rules, restrictions and directives imposed upon him,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl Gilmer-Hill wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

On April 30, 2012, Sharrak was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay $4.2 million in restitution. He is currently serving his sentence at a federal prison in West Virginia.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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