A man in North Carolina whom anti-spam organizations call one of the world's 10 most prolific spammers has been sentenced to nine years in jail.

But Jeremy Jaynes won't have to begin serving time right away. The judge ordered the sentence deferred until an appeals court deals with constitutional issues raised by Virginia's tough anti-spam law.

It was the first felony prosecution in the U.S. relating to the growing problem of spam.

Jaynes was convicted of sending millions of unsolicited e-mails that peddled pornography or sham products, such as the "FedEx refund processor" that supposedly allowed people to earn $75 an hour from home.

Prosecutors said Jaynes received 10,000 credit card orders in one month for the processor, each for $39.95 US.

Jaynes was prosecuted under a 2003 Virginia law that prohibits the mass sending of unsolicited e-mails when the origin is masked.

Virginia asserted jurisdiction because the e-mail traffic was routed through AOL's servers in Virginia.

A jury had recommended a nine-year sentence when Jaynes was convicted in November.

The prosecution had asked for the maximum 15 years. Prosecutors said Jaynes was making $500,000 US a month from his spamming activities and had assets of $24 million US.