Eckehard Schulz / AP
Published Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019 | 6:06 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019 | 9:23 p.m.
A former Las Vegas illusion show headliner from Germany appeared to faint Thursday while being sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined more than $500,000 in a federal child pornography case.
Jan Rouven Fuechtener, 40, stiffened and fell backward over his chair after Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro rejected his apology and his attempt to say he derived no gratification from thousands of pornographic videos and images the FBI found in password-protected files on nine computers at a home dubbed the "fun house."
Fuechtener recovered after a sip of water, without medical assistance. His attorneys, Russell Marsh and Sunethra Muralidhara, said later it wasn't clear if he ever lost consciousness.
The judge branded Fuechtener a shameless liar and manipulator who dragged out his court proceedings "like a soap opera" and only regretted he got caught. She ordered Fuechtener to pay an additional $70,000 in restitution to victims identified in the videos.
"This is not acceptable, here or in Germany or anywhere," the judge said, describing the videos as "not just children having sex, but sadistic violent acts."
Earlier, prosecutor Elham Roohani sobbed as she recounted the "heart-wrenching screams" and "whimpers" of children forced into sex with adults on files she viewed preparing the criminal case.
Still, Navarro sentenced Fuechtener to less than the 23 years recommended by federal parole and probation officials and 30 years sought by prosecutors. The judge said Fuechtener might be 60 before he gets out of prison and will probably be deported back to Germany.
Fuechtener blamed his pornography collection on boredom, a methamphetamine habit and people he surrounded himself between his six shows a week at the Tropicana resort while his husband, Frank Dietmar Alfter, traveled around the world. The show closed following Fuechtener's arrest in March 2016.
Alfter now lives in Germany. The house was sold in 2016 and Fuechtener deposited money in a trust account for fines and restitution.
Fuechtener stopped his trial before videos were aired publicly by pleading guilty in November 2016 to possession, receipt and distribution of child pornography.
He then spent years changing lawyers and trying to undo his plea, arguing that his trial attorneys misled him about his sentence.
The case arose after Fuechtener was identified in August 2014 as a child pornography collector using internet names including "Lars45," ''LarsUSA22" and Lars Schmidt.