MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A 32-year-old man from Eagan, Minnesota was sentenced to 38 years in prison Tuesday for using social media to obtain child pornography from more than 155 high school boys in multiple states. Prosecutors sought a 40-year prison sentence for Anton Martynenko, but two years were shaved off his sentence for giving federal investigators notes on jail conversations he had with Danny Heinrich, the man who killed Jacob Wetterling.
According to court documents, Martynenko “regularly scoured internet sites devoted to high school athletes to locate his targets.” In many cases, he posed as a teenage girl to solicit nude photos from the boys, which he then posted on social media.
Prosecutors say Martynenko collected child pornography, but also “delighted in the humiliation, embarrassment, and potential negative consequences his actions caused his victims.”
Prosecutors are aware of three boys who engaged in sexual activity with Martynenko, which he claims were consensual encounters. At least two of Martynenko’s victims committed suicide, but it is not known what role, if any, his scheme had in their deaths.
Martynenko pleaded guilty in January. Prosecutors said this is the single largest child pornography production case in Minnesota history.
“We feel like we’ve been given freedom today,” one of Martynenko’s victims said at Tuesday’s sentencing. “It’s very satisfying to see this man sit in prison for the rest of his life.”
Wetterling case connection
According to a pre-sentencing filing, Martynenko informed his attorneys of conversations he had with Danny Heinrich, during his time at the Sherburne County Jail. Martynenko “felt it was his moral duty to convey the information he had obtained from Mr. Heinrich relating to both Jacob Wetterling’s murder as well as the sexual assault of Jared Scheierl.”
Martynenko met with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Aug. 17 and provided 40 pages of notes on the conversations he had with Danny Heinrich. Six days later, Martynenko met with his attorney and said Heinrich had returned from a meeting with his own lawyers and was bragging to everyone that he was “going to be very famous in the coming weeks and to be sure to watch for him on television.”
Heinrich later told Martynenko, “in great detail,” how he abducted, sexually assaulted and killed Jacob Wetterling.
“Did he help solve the Heinrich-Wetterling case? He did not,” said assistant U.S. attorney Carol Kayser. “He wanted to be painted as a hero. And he is not.”