Advanced Television

Jail term/fine for US copyright pirate

March 9, 2023

By Colin Mann

United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero has confirmed that Bill Omar Carrasquillo, of Swedesboro, NJ, better known to his more than 800,000 online followers as ‘Omi in a Hellcat’, has been sentenced to 66 months’ imprisonment, five years of supervised release, more than $30 million (€28.4m) in forfeiture, and more than $15 million in restitution by United States District Court Judge Harvey Bartle III, for crimes arising from a wide-ranging copyright infringement scheme that involved piracy of cable TV, access device fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of copyright infringement.

As the Indictment set forth, from about March 2016 until at least November 2019, Carrasquillo along with his co-defendants operated a large-scale Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) piracy 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 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, 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.

Carrasquillo was convicted of one count of conspiracy; one count of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; one count of reproduction of a protected work; three counts of public performance of a protected work; one count of access device fraud; one count of wire fraud; one count of making false statements to a bank; one count of money laundering; one count of making false statements to law enforcement officers; and one count of tax evasion.

In addition to a sentence of 66 months’ imprisonment, the court ordered Carrasquillo to pay $10.7 million in restitution to the victim cable companies, more than $5 million in restitution to the IRS, and to forfeit over $30 million in illegal proceeds that he reaped from the scheme.

“Income gained from the infringement of copyrights is taken seriously, and the federal government will continue its commitment to protecting copyright holders, creators, and the millions of customers who enjoy the fruits of a strong intellectual property rights system,” said US Attorney Romero. “Carrasquillo and his co-defendants operated a large-scale cable piracy scheme. They fraudulently obtained cable television accounts and then resold copyrighted content to tens of thousands of subscribers across the country and abroad, earning over 30 million dollars in illicit revenue in about three years, none of which was reported on state or federal income tax return. Accordingly, today’s sentencing of Omar Carrasquillo includes prison time and substantial forfeiture and restitution reflecting the severity of his actions.”

“Making money off of someone else’s copyrighted work is theft, plain and simple,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Mr. Carrasquillo hijacked all of this content, sold it to his subscribers, and lived large off the illegal proceeds. Today’s sentence should send a message that wilfully stealing another party’s intellectual property is a serious crime and the FBI is committed to holding violators accountable.”

“Whether obtained legally or illegally, all income must be reported,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Yury Kruty. “Carrasquillo took multiple steps to evade his tax liability, including attempting to hide the source of his ill-gotten gains by depositing them into bank accounts held in names other than his own. Thanks to the hard work of IRS-CI and its law enforcement partners, Carrasquillo has been held accountable for his criminal conduct.”

Anti -piracy coalition the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) has applauded US law enforcement for efforts that culminated in the sentencing of Carrasquillo and Jesse Gonzales, of Pico Rivera, Calif., who was sentenced to 28 months in prison for crimes connected to the wide-ranging and lucrative copyright infringement scheme. Both pleaded guilty in 2022.

“ACE applauds the IRS, the FBI and the Department of Justice CCIPS for investigating, prosecuting, and convicting the piracy operators who ran the illegal streaming subscription service, Gears TV,” said Jan van Voorn, Executive Vice President and Chief of Global Content Protection for the Motion Picture Association and Head of ACE. “There is no justification for the illegal streaming of content, and the sentencing of these felons confirms yet again that violators will face serious consequences. ACE currently has similar cases in the pipeline, and we are committed to taking action against those involved in commercial-scale content piracy schemes as part of our global mission to protect the legal creative marketplace.”



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