A wealthy Chester County lawyer was sentenced to 15 years in a federal lockup today for traveling to Russia to engage in a sexual relationship with an underage boy.
Kenneth Schneider, 47, who has been in federal custody since being extradited from Cyprus in May 2010, was convicted by a jury in October 2010 of traveling for the purpose of having sex with a minor and transporting a person for criminal sexual misconduct. The second conviction was set aside in September by U.S. District Judge Juan Sanchez.
Prosecutors alleged that Schneider in 1998 offered to assist Roman Zavarov, then 12, to pay his board at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. Authorities said Schneider then persuaded Zavarov's parents to permit the child to move into an apartment with him.
Schneider, an international business lawyer and founder of the Apogee Foundation, promoted himself as a benefactor of artistically gifted youth.
Zavarov, now 25, testified against Schneider at trial. The criminal case arose from a 2008 civil suit filed against Schneider in 2008 by Zavarov, who is now married and a professional ballet dancer in Arizona.
Schneider took the stand in his own defense and denied ever having illicit sex with Zavarov.
Sanchez did not mince words in sentencing Schneider, calling him a "monster" who forced Zavarov to become his "sex slave" for six years.
Later, the judge said: "You destroyed a life and expressed no remorse whatsoever and have acted like a victim of this crime."
Sanchez also ordered Schneider to pay Zavarov $35,000 in restitution for medical and professional counseling. Zavarov told the court Wednesday his encounter with Schneider had left him depressed, insecure and guilt ridden to this day.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Morgan said she hoped today's sentencing helped bring closure for Zavarov so that he can "move forward and recover" from his relationship with Schneider.
Defense attorney Sam Stretton, who had sought a three-year sentence, vowed to appeal the conviction and sentence. "You can't call a man a monster and a sexual predator. The jury never found that," he said.