Five individuals and four companies have been sentenced for participating in a conspiracy to fix the prices of DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs sold on the Amazon marketplace. This investigation has resulted in a total of six individual guilty pleas and four corporate guilty pleas.
Victor Btesh, of New York, was sentenced to 18 months in prison incarceration followed by two years of supervised release and a fine of $38,000. Btesh’s three companies – Michelle’s DVD Funhouse, MJR Prime and Prime Brooklyn – were sentenced to $156,520, $125,688 and $61,844 in criminal fines, respectively, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
Additionally, Emmanuel Hourizadeh, Raymond Nouvahian, Morris Sutton, Bruce Fish and Fish’s company, BDF Enterprises Inc., were all sentenced on July 21, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Hourizadeh and Nouvahian, both of New York, were each sentenced to one month in prison, seven months of home confinement, a criminal fine of $55,000 each and two years of supervised release. Sutton, of New Jersey, was sentenced to one month in prison, five months of home confinement, a $20,000 criminal fine and two years of supervised release. Fish, of Minnesota, was sentenced to six months in prison, six months of home confinement, a $48,750 criminal fine and two years of supervised released. BDF Enterprises was sentenced to a $234,000 criminal fine.
“Americans are becoming increasingly reliant on online marketplaces, making it more important as ever to protect them from being cheated on the internet,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Manish Kumar of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “These sentences reflect the division’s commitment to seeking punishment for criminal antitrust violations wherever they may occur.”
“Conspiring to fix prices in online marketplaces is a federal crime,” said U.S. Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III for the Eastern District of Tennessee. “These convictions and sentences demonstrate our office’s commitment to prosecuting price-fixing conspiracies and to protecting consumers in the Eastern District of Tennessee from paying inflated prices in online marketplaces.”
“Activities related to price fixing and collusion do not promote an environment conducive to open competition, ultimately harming the consumer,” said Executive Special Agent in Charge Kenneth Cleevely of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (USPS-OIG). “The sentencings in this case represent a win for all law enforcement agencies who investigate those who engage in this type of harmful conduct to ensure that justice is served.”
According to court documents, the defendants agreed with co-conspirators to raise and maintain the prices of DVDs and Blu-Rays sold through Amazon marketplace storefronts, resulting in those products being sold at collusive and noncompetitive prices. Hourizadeh, Nouvahian and Sutton pleaded guilty to price fixing on Jan. 7, 2022. Btesh and all three corporate entities pleaded guilty to price fixing on Feb. 9, after having been indicted on March 16, 2022. Lastly, Fish and BDF Enterprises pleaded guilty to price fixing on Feb. 10, after having been indicted on March 16, 2022.
Amazon Marketplace is an e-commerce platform that enables third-party vendors to sell new or used products alongside Amazon’s own offerings. Amazon Marketplace is owned and operated by Amazon.com Inc.
The FBI New York Field Office and the USPS-OIG Contract Fraud Investigations Division investigated the case.
Trial Attorneys Robert M. Jacobs, Kevin C. Culum, Elizabeth K. Noonan-Pomada and Nickolas R. Foran of the Antitrust Division’s Chicago Office and Assistant U.S. Attorney William A. Roach Jr. for the Eastern District of Tennessee prosecuted the case.
Anyone with information in connection with this investigation should contact the Antitrust Division’s Complaint Center at 888-647-3258 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/report-violations.