Zuccarini broke down in tears before admitting that he intentionally deceived minors into logging on to adult sites containing graphic sexual scenes. Zuccarini also pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography.
Under a plea deal reached with Manhattan federal prosecutors, Zuccarini agreed to serve a prison term of 30 to 37 months. However, the judge who will sentence Zuccarini is not bound by the agreement and can impose a different term.
The defendant was arrested in September at a Hollywood, Fla., hotel, where he had been living for several months.
Zuccarini, who was sued more than 100 times by such organizations as Dow Jones and The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues for misusing their domain names, was the first person charged under a new federal law making it a crime to attract children to X-rated Internet sites.
Prosecutors said Zuccarini had admitted in previous private litigation that Web site operators paid him between 10 cents and 25 cents for every hit he brought them. They said Zuccarini claimed he made as much as $1 million from these payments.
Zuccarini admitted in the civil cases that he registered domain names of Web sites popular with children partially because they are more likely than adults to make spelling errors on Web site addresses, prosecutors said.
Zuccarini admitted carrying out his scheme by registering at least 3,000 domain names based on misspellings of legitimate companies and individuals. A very large percentage of those names were geared toward children.
For example, he registered the Internet domain name “www.dinseyland.com,” a misspelling of Disneyland. He also registered 16 variations of the legitimate site operated by singer Britney Spears.
Other addresses included “www.bobthebiulder.com” and “www.teltubies.com.” These are misspellings of the cartoon characters “Bob the Builder” and “Teletubbies.”