NJ, NY, CA Defendants Indicted for Nationwide Copyrighted IPTV Theft Scheme
PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. announced that Bill Omar Carrasquillo, 35, of Swedesboro, NJ; Jesse Gonzales, 42, of Pico Rivera, CA; and Michael Barone, 36, of Richmond Hill, NY, were charged by Indictment with crimes arising out of a wide-ranging and lucrative copyright infringement scheme.
According to the Indictment, from about March 2016 until at least November 2019, the defendants operated a large-scale internet protocol television (IPTV) theft scheme in which they fraudulently obtained cable television accounts and then resold copyrighted content to thousands of their own subscribers, who could then stream or playback content. The defendants also allegedly made fraudulent misrepresentations to banks and merchant processors in an effort to obtain merchant processing accounts. During the period of their scheme, the defendants earned more than $30 million. Carrasquillo, in particular, allegedly converted a large portion of his profits into homes and dozens of vehicles, including high-end sports cars. When agents attempted to seize those items pursuant to judicially-authorized warrants, Carrasquillo made false statements about and attempted to hide some of those vehicles, including a Freightliner recreational vehicle and a McLaren sports vehicle.
A detailed listing of charges against individual defendants is as follows:
Bill Omar Carrasquillo is charged with: one count of conspiracy; one count of violating the Digital Millenium Copyright Act; one count of reproduction of a protected work; 19 counts of public performance of a protected work; four counts of access device fraud; six counts of wire fraud; three counts of making false statements to a bank; nineteen counts of money laundering; two counts of making false statements to law enforcement officers; two counts of removal of property to prevent seizure; and four counts of tax evasion.
In total and if convicted, Mr. Carrasquillo faces a maximum possible sentence of 514 years in prison, as well as supervised release, fines, restitution, and asset forfeiture.
Jesse Gonzales is charged with: one count of conspiracy; one count of violating the Digital Millenium Copyright Act; one count of reproduction of a protected work; 19 counts of public performance of a protected work; four counts of access device fraud; five counts of wire fraud; two counts of making false statements to a bank; and one count of money laundering.
In total and if convicted, Mr. Gonzales faces a maximum possible sentence of 244 years in prisonm, as well as supervised release, fines, restitution, and and asset forfeiture.
Michael Barone is charged with: one count of conspiracy; one count of violating the Digital Millenium Copyright Act; two counts of access device fraud; and five counts of wire fraud.
In total and if convicted, Mr. Barone faces a maximum possible sentence of 130 years in prison, as well as supervised release, fines, restitution, and asset forefeiture.
“These defendants are charged with engaging in a massive, years-long scheme to steal copyrighted content, which is a very serious federal crime” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “As this prosecution shows, protecting intellectual property rights is an important priority of our Office and the entire Department of Justice.”
“We will investigate and take seriously schemes for profit that infringe upon copyrights,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The charges announced today should leave no doubt about the department’s continuing commitment to protect copyright holders from theft.”
“You can’t just go and monetize someone else’s copyrighted content with impunity,” said Bradley S. Benavides, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “That’s the whole point of securing a copyright. Theft is theft, and if you’re going to willfully steal another party’s intellectual property, the FBI stands ready to step in and shut you down.”
“All income is taxable, including income derived from illegal means,” said Yury Kruty, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Field Office for IRS-Criminal Investigation. “In addition, it is a crime to knowingly engage in monetary transactions involving criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000 that is derived from a specified unlawful activity, such as wire fraud. IRS-CI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring charges against individuals who choose to participate in illegal schemes such as this.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher J. Mannion and Matthew T. Newcomer, and DOJ CCIPS Trial Attorney Jeff Pearlman.
An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.