MINNEAPOLIS (AP/WCCO) — A Minneapolis attorney convicted of defrauding hundreds of people he threatened to expose as pornography customers has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Paul Hansmeier‘s multimillion dollar fraud scheme from 2011 to 2014 involved seeding the internet with pornography so that he could convince the people who downloaded it into paying legal settlements to avoid costly and embarrassing lawsuits.

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Prosecutors say Hansmeier blamed other lawyers who were hired to file lawsuits on his behalf, lied to the courts about his involvement and ordered that evidence be destroyed.

“Today’s sentence for Paul Hansmeier is the just result for an attorney who abused his license to practice law and disgraced himself and the bar in so many ways,” Jill Sanborn, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis Division, said. “Hansmeier’s role in this salacious fraud scheme exploited victims by misusing his position of trust as an officer of the court. The FBI is grateful for the victims who came forward in this case because their information was critical to our work.”

The Star Tribune reports U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen told Hansmeier during sentencing Friday that while he was “smarter than all get out,” it was almost incalculable how much his abuse of trust harmed the administration of justice.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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