Former Video Store Owner Sentenced to Five Years for Selling Counterfeit DVDs
BANGOR, Maine: A Mattawamkeag man was sentenced today in federal court for mail fraud and copyright infringement stemming from his online sales of counterfeit DVDs, U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank announced.
U.S. District Judge John A. Woodcock, Jr. sentenced Douglas Gordon, 53, to five years in prison and two years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution to victims defrauded in the scheme. A jury found Gordon guilty on October 29, 2019, after a seven-day trial.
According to evidence presented at trial, Gordon, the former owner of a chain of video rental stores in eastern Maine, operated three websites from which he made more than $638,000 in sales of over 48,000 counterfeit copies of copyright-protected motion pictures. Representatives of MGM, CBS, Disney, Mercury Pictures and other copyright owners testified that Gordon did not have permission to reproduce and distribute the movies. A senior investigator employed by the Motion Picture Association identified the DVDs as counterfeit.
Based on undercover purchases made from the three websites, execution of search warrants and forensic analysis of computers, investigators from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) identified Gordon as the operator of the online businesses. A series of customers testified at trial that they expected based on website advertisements to receive authorized DVD movies with cover art and a plastic case, but instead received a paper envelope with nothing more than a burned disc with a laser-etched movie title. Several of Gordon’s former video store employees also provided evidence of his unlawful reproduction.
In imposing sentence, Judge Woodcock said he considered the “thousands of victims hoodwinked” when they made the online sales, as well as the scores of copyright holders harmed in the scheme.
HSI investigated the case, with assistance from the Maine Attorney General’s Office, the Brewer Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Better Business Bureau.