PHILADELPHIA – A Philadelphia man was sentenced this week to 15 years in prison on charges of traveling for the purpose of engaging in sex with a minor. The sentence was the result of an extensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Kenneth Schneider, 47, of Philadelphia, was convicted by a federal jury on Oct. 1, 2010. In the summer of 1998, Schneider, founder and president of the Apogee Foundation, traveled to Moscow, Russia, where he told two ballet instructors at the Moscow State Academy of Choreography that he was willing to provide "assistance" to students attending the academy. The instructors identified a 12-year-old student whose family could no longer afford to pay his board. Schneider convinced the boy's parents to allow him to live with Schneider in an apartment a few blocks from the school. Between Aug. 22, 2000, and Nov. 22, 2001, Schneider engaged in a sexual relationship with the victim, bringing him to Philadelphia for a summer program in 2001, then returning to Moscow with the victim in August 2001 to continue the sexual relationship. Schneider was arrested March 27, 2010, in Larnaca, Cyprus, and extradited on May 28, 2010.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sanchez ordered Schneider to pay restitution to the victim in the amount of $35,000, pay a fine of $20,000 and complete three years of supervised release.
"This investigation has exposed the disturbing truth concerning those individuals who believe they can victimize children abroad and not be held accountable in America for their very disturbing actions," said John Kelleghan, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Philadelphia. "HSI and our law enforcement partners, here and around the world, stand vigilant to protect the most vulnerable among us, our children."
"The Department of Justice is committed to protecting children from sexual predators," said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. "When a criminal, such as this one, exploits a vulnerable and innocent child for his own gratification, we will take every step to remove the criminal from the community so that he cannot victimize other children and so that other potential criminals are put on notice that the justice system will not tolerate this type of behavior."
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers. ICE HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
The case was investigated by ICE HSI and the FBI, with assistance from the Investigative Committee of the General Procuracy of the Russian Federation, ICE's attaché in Moscow and Interpol.
U.S. Attorney Memeger thanked the Investigative Committee of the General Procuracy of the Russian Federation, without whose assistance the investigation could not have been completed.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Morgan and Vineet Gauri.