Thai sentenced for transporting child porn to Las Vegas


A Thai man who contends he is a devout Buddhist was sentenced Tuesday to 78 months in prison for transporting child pornography into the country.

Manu Panatkul, 52, who has identified himself as a retired biology teacher in Thailand, also was ordered to serve a lifetime of supervised release after he gets out of prison.

U.S. District Judge James Mahan, however, told Panatkul that he is likely to face deportation after he completes his prison time.

Panatkul, who has a master's degree in education, was arrested in July 2011 after federal agents at McCarran International Airport found DVDs in his possession that contained videos of "prepubescent minors engaged in sexual conduct." He had arrived in Las Vegas on an international Korean Airlines flight from Thailand on his way to visit family in Utah.

Panatkul later pleaded guilty to one felony count of transporting child pornography.

Speaking through an interpreter on Tuesday, Panatkul begged Mahan for more than 20 minutes to keep him out of prison and send him back to Thailand, where he pledged to live the austere life of a Buddhist monk to "improve" himself. He has a wife of 30 years and two children in Thailand.

Mahan denied the request but gave Panatkul the prison sentence his lawyer, Robert Draskovich, had sought.

"We're very happy with Judge Mahan's ruling," Draskovich said afterward. "We're pleased that he followed our arguments."

Draskovich said Panatkul originally was facing a 20-year prison sentence.

In court Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy Koppe had asked Mahan to sentence Panatkul to 121 months behind bars.

Contact reporter Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

 

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