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Former Los Angeles Dodgers Pitcher Signs Plea Agreement Admitting He Did Not Pay Taxes For His Business Selling Counterfeit Karaoke Machines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2012

LOS ANGELES – A former pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers has entered into a plea agreement in which he admits to operating a business selling counterfeit karaoke machines for years without paying taxes on the sales.  The plea agreement, along with a two-count information, was filed today in federal court here in Los Angeles.

The information charges William S. Bene, 44, with criminal copyright infringement and filing a false tax return in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 506, 18 U.S.C. § 2319, and 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1).

Bene is expected to make his initial appearance in Federal Court on April 30, 2012.  

According to the plea agreement, for several years between 2006 and 2010, Bene, a resident of Pasadena, sold counterfeit karaoke jukeboxes and did not report over $600,000 in sales from the business to the Internal Revenue Service.  As part of his plea agreement, Bene admitted that between December 2006 and March 2010, Bene illegally copied and sold karaoke songs on hard drives.  Each drive carried approximately 122,000 songs.  Bene also admitted that he did not tell the IRS about the business, even going so far as to ask the IRS in 2008 for relief from back taxes because he claimed that he could not afford to pay.

"Intellectual Property crimes are not victimless," said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr.  "As this federal case shows, these crimes of stealth hurt the small businesses that do play by the rules, and they also deprive the federal government of tax revenue that could be put to beneficial use."

IRS-Criminal investigation Special Agent in Charge Leslie P. DeMarco commented, “the charges in this Information serve as an important reminder that IRS-Criminal Investigation will not tolerate those who make up their own rules.  Income derived from illegal means is taxable and individuals who choose to participate in illegal schemes will be held accountable.”

The information charges a copyright offense that occurred in November 2009 and a false tax return filed for the year 2007.

The charges in the information carry a maximum statutory sentence of eight years imprisonment, payment of a fine in the amount of $250,000 or two times the gross gain or gross loss, three years of supervised release and payment of a $100 special assessment.  As part of his plea agreement, defendant is also required to pay restitution to the victims of the crimes, including the United States.

An information contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime.  Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.

Release No. 12-041

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