A man who posted explicit photos of women on his so-called revenge porn website, some taken from hacked email accounts, has agreed to plead guilty in Los Angeles to hacking and identity theft charges, prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The plea agreement between Hunter Moore, 28, and federal prosecutors comes nearly three years after BBC News called him "The net's most hated man" and reported that he was known to post the full name and location of people whose naked photos he featured on his site.
Revenge porn, which involves posting online photos of women or men without their consent, typically by jilted ex-lovers, has drawn the attention of lawmakers in several states who have approved legislation intended to stop the practice.
Prosecutors have brought a number of criminal cases against operators of revenge porn sites, some of whom have charged women to have their photos deleted.
Moore, like other revenge porn entrepreneurs, posted nude photos of women and a few men submitted by former lovers, but went further by paying a hacker to illegally access email accounts to obtain more nude photos for the site.
A resident of Woodland in Northern California, Moore has agreed to plead guilty to federal computer hacking and identity theft charges and faces two to seven years in prison at sentencing, according to the plea deal filed in federal court in Los Angeles.
Charles Evens, who prosecutors say Moore paid to hack into email accounts of hundreds of people to trawl for photos, still faces computer hacking and conspiracy charges and is scheduled to go to trial in March.
Moore is to appear in court on Feb. 25, but the hearing is likely to be delayed until March, a spokesman for federal prosecutors said in an email. Both Moore and Evens were arrested in January 2014 following an FBI investigation.
In another prosecution of a revenge porn operator, Kevin Boellart of San Diego was convicted earlier this month of state charges of identity theft and extortion. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
In 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the first law in the nation specifically targeting revenge porn. New Jersey has an older law that allows prosecution of revenge porn, but it was passed as a far-reaching cyber-bullying statute.
A revenge porn bill passed by Arizona lawmakers was put on hold last year by a federal judge after a rights group argued the legislation was too broad.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)