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Monday, November 3, 2014

Conspirator in Android Mobile Device App Piracy Group Pleads Guilty

A leading member of an online piracy group pleaded guilty today for his role in a scheme to distribute more than one million pirated copies of copyrighted Android mobile device applications, or “apps,” with a total retail value of more than $1.7 million.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia and Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office made the announcement.

Scott Walton, 28, of Cleveland, Ohio, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement before U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. of the Northern District of Georgia.  Walton will be sentenced at a later date.  A second co-conspirator, Kody Jon Peterson, 22, of Clermont, Florida, pleaded guilty to an information on April 14, 2014, for his role in the conspiracy. 

According to statements made in court, Walton and his fellow conspirators identified themselves as members of the SnappzMarket Group.  From May 2011 through August 2012, they conspired to reproduce and distribute over one million copies of copyrighted Android mobile device apps.  The apps had a total retail value of over $1.7 million and were distributed through the SnappzMarket alternative online market without permission from the victim copyright owners, who would otherwise sell copies of the apps on legitimate online markets for a fee. 

The indictment charges Walton and two other leading members of the SnappzMarket Group with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and related charges for allegedly distributing the copyrighted Android mobile devices apps through the group’s website, www.snappzmarket.com.  On Aug. 21, 2012, the FBI executed a seizure order against the website, which was the first time a website domain involving mobile device app marketplaces had been seized.

The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Chief John H. Zacharia of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Bly of the Northern District of Georgia.  Significant assistance was provided by the CCIPS Cybercrime Lab and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs. 

Updated November 3, 2014