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DOJ announces indictments over $30 mln TV copyright theft scheme

2 minute read

The seal of the United States Department of Justice on the building exterior of the United States Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, New York City, August 17, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Three men charged with stealing and retransmitting cable TV content
  • Accused of selling on-demand subscriptions to stolen content

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice said on Wednesday that three men who allegedly operated a $30 million scheme to steal content from cable-TV providers and retransmit it illegally had been indicted in federal court in Philadelphia.

DOJ said in a statement that Bill Omar Carrasquillo, 35, of Swedesboro, New Jersey; Jesse Gonzales, 42, of Pico Rivera, California; and Michael Barone, 36, of Richmond Hill, New York used subscriptions to Verizon, Comcast, and other cable services to illegally stream copyrighted content to thousands of their own paying subscribers.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite said in the release that DOJ "take seriously schemes for profit that infringe upon copyrights."

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The indictment was initially filed Sept. 16 and unsealed Wednesday.

According to the indictment, the defendants operated a service for at least three years under the names of Reboot, Gears TV, Reloaded and Gears Reloaded that decrypted and streamed shows, movies, and sporting events from the cable companies on demand to paying subscribers.

The defendants were charged with criminal copyright infringement, wire fraud, money laundering and several other crimes.

Carrasquillo and Gonzalez were arrested Tuesday, and Barone is scheduled to make his first appearance in court Wednesday, the DOJ release said.

The case is United States v. Carrasquillo, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 2:21-cr-00367.

For the U.S.: Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Mannion and Matthew Newcomer

Attorney information for the defendants wasn't immediately available.

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com

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