Former Customs Employee Pleads Guilty To Auctioning Online A Customs Declaration Form Signed By A Celebrity
The Defendant Unlawfully Retransmitted Satellite TV Programming To Over 550 Customers
BRYSON CITY, N.C. – A cable TV operator pleaded guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Howell to wire fraud and mail fraud charges for fraudulently acquiring and unlawfully rebroadcasting DIRECTV satellite television programming to the customers of Highlands Cable Group, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Joining U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement is John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division.
According to the criminal indictment filed in April 2013, Ninian Ulysses Bond, II, 60, of Highlands, N.C., was the owner and principal operator of Highlands Cable Group, a company engaged in the business of providing cable TV programming to customers in Macon County, N.C. According to the indictment, from July 2002 to December 13, 2011, Bond devised and executed a fraudulent scheme to establish and maintain multiple DIRECTV residential and commercial lodging subscriber accounts for the purpose of fraudulently acquiring DIRECTV satellite TV systems. The fraudulent scheme enabled Bond to acquire and maintain over 30 DIRECTV integrated satellite receiver units and DIRECTV satellite access cards required to decode DIRECTV’s satellite TV signals. According to the indictment and today’s plea hearing, Bond used the fraudulently-acquired DIRECTV equipment to unlawfully retransmit DIRECTV’s satellite television signals to Highlands Cable Group’s subscribers. Court records show that as of December 2011, Highlands Cable Group had more than 550 customers.
According to court documents and court proceedings, Bond paid DIRECTV less than $500 per month to maintain the fraudulent DIRECTV subscriber accounts. Court records indicate that Bond received monthly payments from Highlands Cable Group’s subscribers who had been receiving DIRECTV’s TV programming. According to court records, the fraudulently-acquired DIRECTV television programming that was rebroadcast to Highlands Cable Group’s subscribers was valued at over $45,000 per month, and enabled Bonds and Highlands Cable Group to unfairly compete against other local cable TV companies. At the plea hearing, the government stated that the loss attributable to the fraudulent scheme is estimated at $4.5 million.
The defendant has been released on bond since May 2013. The wire fraud and mail fraud charge each carry a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set yet.
The investigation was handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tom O’Malley and Ben Bain-Creed of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.