CAMDEN - Christopher J. Christie, the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and Acting Assistant Attorney General John C. Richter of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, announced that a production plant worker pleaded guilty today to criminal copyright infringement for reproducing and distributing copyrighted images from the packaging of the video game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" over the Internet in federal district court.
Stephen Dottoli, 24, of Gloucester Twp., entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 22 at 9:30 A.M.
In October 2004, Dottoli worked at a production plant in Pitman, Gloucester County that was producing copies of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas"(GTA:SA). The game was scheduled for release on Oct. 26, 2004.
At his plea hearing, Dottoli admitted that on Oct. 12 he took copies of GTA:SA, including retail packaging (in particular, the manual, a promotional poster, and a map) for the game from the production plant.
Dottoli admitted he took digital photographs of the game materials and loaded them onto his computer. Dottoli subsequently e-mailed a number of individuals in the computer gaming community that GTA:SA had "gone gold," which meant that the development of the game was complete and it would soon be ready for commercial release. To support his claim, he e-mailed these persons pictures of the copyrighted GTA:SA packaging. One of the individuals that received an e-mail of the pictures informed Rockstar Games, Inc., the maker of GTA:SA, and was able to identify Dottoli as the source of the materials. Dottoli subsequently admitted that he had taken the materials from work and provided written confessions to both private investigators and the local police.
According to the Information, Rockstar Games, Inc., a unit of Take Two Interactive, Inc., had spent millions of dollars in the production of GTA:SA, including significant spending on security measures meant to stop the release of information about the game prior to the Oct. 26, 2004 official release.
As part of the plea agreement, the United States and Dottoli agreed that Dottoli illegally reproduced and distributed copyrighted images valued at between $5,000 and $10,000.
The Philadelphia Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case after receiving a referral from Rockstar Games. The investigation resulted in execution of a search warrant on Mr. Dottoli's residence in October 2004.
The defendant faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 on the one count to which he pleaded guilty.
In determining an actual sentence, Judge Kugler will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges that take into account the severity and characteristics of the offense, the defendant's criminal history, if any, and other factors. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
Parole has been abolished in the federal system. Defendants who are given custodial terms must serve nearly all that time.
Christie and Richter credited Special Agents of the FBI's Philadelphia Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge John C. Eckenrode, with investigation of the case.
The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Stephen Stigall of the U.S. Attorney's Office Criminal Division, in Camden, and Trial Attorney Jay V. Prabhu, of the U.S. Department of Justice, Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.