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October 1, 2010Philadelphia, PA, United StatesChild Exploitation

Non-profit's founder convicted in Philadelphia in sex tourism case

PHILADEPLHIA - Kenneth Schneider, 45, was convicted by a jury on Oct. 1 of traveling for the purpose of engaging in sex with a minor, and transporting a person for criminal sexual conduct. Schneider, founder and president of the Apogee Foundation, was arrested March 27, 2010 in Larnaca, Cyprus after special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) located him there.

In the summer of 1998, Schneider traveled to Moscow 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. From the fall of 1998 until 2004, Schneider engaged in a sexual relationship with the victim, bringing him to Philadelphia for a summer program in 2001, and then returning to Moscow with the victim in August 2001 to continue the sexual relationship.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2011. The defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 15 years for count one and 10 years for count two.

The case was investigated by ICE HSI and the FBI, with assistance from the Investigative Committee of the General Procuracy of the Russian Federation, the ICE's attaché in Moscow and Interpol. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle Morgan-Kelly and Vineet Gauri.

The investigation that led to this case was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable.

Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,800 individuals through Operation Predator. ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is 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 NCMEC's CyberTipLine.