A member of the Internet piracy group “IMAGiNE” was sentenced today to serve 23 months in prison, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride and Special Agent in Charge John P. Torres of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington, D.C.
Javier E. Ferrer, 41, of New Port Richey, Fla., was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Henry C. Morgan in the Eastern District of Virginia. In addition to his prison term, Ferrer was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution.
On Nov. 29, 2012, Ferrer pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. Ferrer is the fifth member of the IMAGiNE Group who has been sentenced to prison for the copyright conspiracy.
On Sept. 13, 2012, Ferrer was charged in a criminal information for his role in the IMAGiNE Group, an organized online piracy ring that sought to become the premier group to first release Internet copies of movies only showing in theaters. Four other IMAGiNE Group members, including the group’s leader, were indicted on April 18, 2012, for their roles in the IMAGiNE Group.
According to court documents, Ferrer and his co-conspirators sought to illegally obtain and disseminate digital copies of copyrighted motion pictures showing in theaters. Ferrer actively participated in the IMAGiNE Group’s illegal efforts to film copyrighted motion pictures currently showing in theaters as his co-conspirators used receivers and recording devices to secretly capture audio sound tracks of copyrighted movies playing in movie theaters. After the IMAGiNE Group obtained illegal copies of the audio and video portions of copyrighted motion pictures, Ferrer and his co-conspirators also engaged in processing or "encoding" the video files to enhance the picture quality and in synchronizing the audio files with the video files to make completed movies suitable for reproduction and distribution over the Internet, without the permission of the copyright owners.
According to testimony by a representative of the Motion Picture Association of America, the IMAGiNE Group constituted the most prolific motion picture piracy release group operating on the Internet from September 2009 through September 2011.
Co-defendants Sean M. Lovelady, Willie O. Lambert, Gregory A. Cherwonik and Jeramiah B. Perkins pleaded guilty on May 9, June 22, July 11 and Aug. 29, 2012, respectively, to one count each of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, before U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in the Eastern District of Virginia . Lambert and Lovelady were sentenced on Nov. 2, 2012, to serve 30 months and 23 months in prison, respectively. Cherwonik was sentenced on Nov. 29, 2012, to serve 40 months in prison. Perkins, the leader of the group, was sentenced on Jan. 3, 2013, to 60 months in prison.
The investigation of the case and the arrests were conducted by agents with the HIS Washington, D.C., Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Krask of the Eastern District of Virginia and Senior Counsel John H. Zacharia of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) are prosecuting the case. Significant assistance was provided by the CCIPS Cyber Crime Lab and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.
This case is part of efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force) to stop the theft of intellectual property. Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce .
This investigation was supported by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington. The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice’s IP Task Force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21-member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and our war fighters.