WASHINGTON – The leader of the Internet piracy group “IMAGiNE” was sentenced today to serve 60 months in prison, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride and Special Agent in Charge John P. Torres of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington, D.C.
Jeramiah B. Perkins, 40, of Portsmouth, Va., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in the Eastern District of Virginia. In addition to his prison term, Perkins was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution. On Aug. 29, 2012, Perkins pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.
Perkins was indicted along with three other defendants on April 18, 2012, for their roles in the IMAGiNE Group, an organized online piracy ring that sought to become the premier group to first release Internet copies of movies only showing in theaters.
According to court documents, Perkins directed and participated in using receivers and recording devices in movie theaters to secretly capture the audio sound tracks of copyrighted movies and then synchronized the audio files with illegally recorded video files to create completed movie files suitable for sharing over the Internet among members of the IMAGiNE Group and others.
Perkins admitted he took the lead in renting computer servers in France and elsewhere for use by the IMAGiNE Group. He also admitted he registered domain names for use by the IMAGiNE Group, and opened e-mail and PayPal accounts to receive donations and payments from persons downloading or buying IMAGiNE Group releases of pirated copies of motion pictures and other copyrighted works.
According to testimony by a representative of the Motion Picture Association of America, the IMAGiNE Group constituted the most prolific motion picture piracy release group operating on the Internet from September 2009 through September 2011.
Co-defendants Sean M. Lovelady, Willie O. Lambert and Gregory A. Cherwonik each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement on May 9, June 22 and July 11, 2012, respectively. Lambert and Lovelady were sentenced on Nov. 2, 2012, to 30 months and 23 months in prison, respectively. Cherwonik was sentenced on Nov. 29, 2012, to 40 months in prison. A fifth co-defendant, Javier E. Ferrer, was charged in an information on Sept. 13, 2012, for his role in the IMAGiNE Group, and he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement on Nov. 29, 2012. Ferrer is scheduled to be sentenced on March 14, 2013.
The investigation of the case and the arrests were conducted by agents with HSI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Krask of the Eastern District of Virginia and Senior Counsel John H. Zacharia of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) are prosecuting the case. Significant assistance was provided by the CCIPS Cyber Crime Lab and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.
This case is part of efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force) to stop the theft of intellectual property. Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce.
This investigation was supported by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington. The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice’s IP Task Force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21-member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and our war fighters.