Two Members of Internet Piracy Group “IMAGiNE” Sentenced in Virginia for Criminal Copyright Conspiracy
WASHINGTON – Two members of the Internet piracy group “IMAGiNE” were sentenced to prison today in Virginia, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride for the Eastern District of Virginia and Special Agent in Charge John P. Torres of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in Washington, D.C.
Willie Lambert, 57, of Pittston, Pa., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in the Eastern District of Virginia to serve 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $449,514 in restitution, jointly and severally with co-defendants. Sean M. Lovelady, 28, of Pomona, Calif., was sentenced today by Judge Wright Allen to 23 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $7,500 in restitution.
Lambert and Lovelady were indicted along with two 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 to the Internet copies of movies only showing in theaters.
Lovelady and Lambert each pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement on May 9, 2012, and June 22, 2012, respectively.
According to court documents, Lambert, Lovelady and their co-conspirators sought to illegally obtain and disseminate digital copies of copyrighted motion pictures showing in theaters. Both Lovelady and Lambert admitted that they went to movie theaters and secretly used receivers and recording devices to capture the audio sound tracks of copyrighted movies (referred to as “capping”). After obtaining, editing and filtering audio sound tracks and uploading them to servers utilized by the IMAGiNE Group, Lambert and Lovelady used and attempted to use software to synchronize the audio file with an illegally obtained video file to create a completed movie file suitable for sharing over the Internet among members of the IMAGiNE Group and others.
Co-defendants Jeramiah B. Perkins and Gregory Cherwonik each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement on Aug. 29, 2012, and July 11, 2012, respectively. Perkins is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 3, 2013, and Cherwonik is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 29, 2012.
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 Justice Department 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 criminal counterfeiting and piracy. As a 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.