Spamming Net drug dealer gets 30 years in prison

Christopher William Smith, once nicknamed "the poster child for the Can-Spam Act," is sentenced on charges related to his $24 million online pharmacy operation.

AOL once deemed an infamous Minnesota spammer named Christopher William Smith "the poster child for the Can-Spam Act."

A federal judge in his home state on Wednesday had a new name for the convicted junk mailer: "drug kingpin." He sentenced Smith to 30 years in prison for multiple charges stemming from his highly lucrative online drugstore, whose illegal sales brought in about $24 million, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis reports.

U.S. authorities originally arrested Smith in 2005 on the belief that he had moved his business, called XPress Pharmacy, to the Dominican Republic after his stateside operations were ordered to cease.

Smith, who went by the moniker "Rizler," first gained notoriety by reportedly blasting to AOL subscribers billions of junk e-mails promoting the usual array of spamalicious goods: "generic Viagra," porn, cable TV descramblers and penis-enhancement pills, according to reports. Security experts once ranked him among their most prolific offenders.

After filing a civil suit against Smith under the 2004 Can-Spam Act, AOL managed to win a $5.3 million damages award, which was one of the largest judgments it had ever received.

As part of the online pharmacy criminal case, the feds had already seized 17 of Smith's automobiles and sold them at auction last year for more than $1.6 million, according to the Star Tribune. Smith's attorney told the newspaper that he had never heard of an online pharmacy conviction that topped 20 years.

A federal law called the Controlled Substances Act makes it illegal to dispense certain classes of drugs without a valid prescription from a physician, but politicians have been pushing in recent years for additional regulations targeting Internet-based services.