By Daniel Lovering
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - A man who admitted online fraud and helped federal agents investigate search engine giant Google was sentenced in Rhode Island on Friday to more than five years in jail and ordered to pay $10 million.
David Whitaker, 36, pleaded guilty in 2008 to bilking small businesses and individuals out of millions of dollars through Mixitforme Inc., an online company formed in Rhode Island three years earlier and purporting to sell consumer electronics.
As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Whitaker assisted federal agents in an investigation into Google that led to a $500 million settlement by the company in August. The probe focused on advertisements for prescription drugs that were illegally imported into the United States from Canada.
"He played a significant role in that investigation," said Jim Martin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Rhode Island, without describing exactly how Whitaker was able to help prosecutors.
Whitaker was sentenced to 70 months in prison and ordered to pay victims more than $10 million, including $7.8 million to various businesses and $2.2 million to a credit card processing company, Martin said.
Whitaker, originally from Bristol, Tennessee, had been charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and commercial bribery.
He was arrested in California in 2008 after being expelled from Mexico and was brought to Rhode Island, where he has been held at a detention facility.
Whitaker's attorney, George J. West, said the sentence was "appropriate, and it struck a balance," given his client's "sincere and diligent efforts to try to make amends" by participating in the Google investigation.
West said his client suffered from medical and mental health problems, and that the judge had ordered that he receive treatment. "He's struggled with these things," West said, without elaborating.
(Editing by Michelle Nichols and Cynthia Johnston)