CHARLOTTESVILLE – The 61-year-old Reva man who admitted to relentlessly soliciting sex on behalf of his ex-girlfriend by posting fake ads on Craigslist inviting strange men to her home received a 66 month prison sentence in federal court Friday.
U.S. District Court Judge Glen Conrad additionally sentenced former federal employee Kenneth Kuban to three years supervised release for each of three counts to which he pleaded guilty in August – interstate stalking, ID theft and violation of a protective order.
Kuban, a former film preservationist at the Library of Congress Packard Campus in Culpeper, must also provide restitution of $2,891.34 to his victim, pay a $1,000 fine and abide by various conditions upon release including not using alcohol, never again contacting the victim, and permitting his probation officer to access his computer.
“For two years, I have been emotionally devastated and lived in great fear due to unfounded torment and cruel harassment,” the victim said in court Friday before breaking down, another woman reading the statement. The statement said the victim has suffered anxiety, tremors, weight gain, homicidal thoughts, sleeplessness, nightmares, humiliation, character defamation, a reclusive lifestyle and fear that Kuban, who she dated for five months ending in February, 2011, would pursue retribution through murder.
Kuban pursued the course of harassment against her, beginning soon after the breakup, because, “Pay back was a bitch,” according to court testimony. The 165 ads he posted over a three-month period this year, mostly from his work computer on Mount Pony, lured more than 100 men seeking free sex to the Marshall woman’s farm.
“Your sentence could have been a lot worse,” Judge Conrad said Friday. “It wasn’t worse primarily because of your age.” He said he hoped Kuban would be wiser after his prison time.
Gray-haired Kuban, flanked by federal marshals, wore a black and gray striped prison jumpsuit, handcuffs off, removing his glasses several times during the nearly three-hour hearing, wiping his eyes and appearing to weep.
His recent fiancée, an Albemarle County woman, testified for Kuban, disclosing that she recently underwent surgery for lung cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy at which Kuban openly cried, and told her, seated in the audience at the end of sentencing, “I’m sorry,” shrugging his shoulders and crying.
Western State Hospital psychologist Dr. Christy McFarland also testified for the defense saying Kuban was taking Ambien when the cyber-stalking occurred. The doctor said recent studies show the sleep aid can affect memories and change brain patterns during sleep. McFarland, a University of Virginia graduate, said the prescription drug “could have contributed to his fixation on the victim and what happened.”
Testifying for the prosecution was LOC Special Agent Tom Williams, lead investigator on the approximate two-month investigation involving multiple email accounts, aliases, search engines and jurisdictions culminating in the March 20 arrest of Kuban outside of his home. Williams noted the complexity of the case and definitively tying it to Kuban saying, “Craigslist is a way to disguise your identity.”
Prosecution witness Fauquier County Inv. John Payne testified, “We did everything we could to protect the victim.” Her local law enforcement department responded to her farm 47 times in two months when random men, including at least one registered sex offender, would show up at all hours of the day and night.
Defense attorney Krysia Nelson questioned prosecution experts about whether the victim had the proper permit to possess a gun in her home, which the woman admitted to carrying around with her during the period of harassment. The defense attorney argued law enforcement should have not let the harassment and volatile situation go on for so long, that they should have confronted Kuban.
“This case is what it is. It isn’t what it isn’t,” Nelson said in her closing statement, saying it’s easy to adopt “a sensationalized view” of what happened. “Look at the defendant. He’s 61, has no criminal history, and has taken responsibility for his actions.”
She mentioned Alec Baldwin’s stalker was recently sentenced to six months while an “obsessed fan” of Madonna’s didn’t get any jail time. Nelson, saying stalking was a misdemeanor, argued for a jail sentence of 375 days and rehabilitation.
Sentencing guidelines called for up to 37 months.
U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy, in arguing for a 120-month sentence, said the defendant in a sentencing memo described his actions as “a bad game of adult cyber-bullying.”
“It’s not a game,” said the prosecutor. “The conduct was extremely risky.”
He said the sentencing guidelines, “written in a different age and time,” did not address that type of predatory online conduct.
“The permanence of what is posted on the Internet makes this case much worse than an ordinary stalking case,” Heaphy said. “If 120 people showed up at her house, we are asking for 120 months. The court should send a message to the defendant that this was the defendant’s fault. He is aggressive and he is violent when things don’t go his way in a relationship.”
Kuban, remaining tearful just before sentencing, read a statement before the judge in which he said all the blame rests on his shoulders. “I bear the responsibility for my out of character actions,” he said. “I don’t believe words could express my remorse” to the victim, he said. Kuban requested leniency in sentencing “so I can continue my life as the upstanding citizen I was the first 60 years of my life.”
Judge Conrad about doubled the sentencing guidelines in handing down the term. He said the seriousness of the conduct is what determined his decision.
“165 postings is outrageous,” Conrad said, “and to have 100 men show up at her home is just outrageous, beyond the pale. It’s just ridiculous … Your vindictiveness to this lady was just very, very serious.”
Kuban requested to serve his sentence, including almost eight months time served, at a low level security facility in Petersburg.