Piracy Syndicates Charged in L.A.
In the first criminal cases brought as a result of Operation Buccanner, two Los Angeles men have been charged with criminal copyright infringement for their involvement in an Internet piracy or “Warez” group known as DrinkOrDie. The two defendants were arraigned this morning in United States District Court in Los Angeles, where they are expected to plead guilty later this week.
Kentaga Kartadinata, 29, of downtown Los Angeles, and Mike Nguyen, 26, of West Los Angeles, informed the court this morning of their intentions to plead guilty to felony charges.
According to plea agreements with the defendants that were filed on Friday, Kartadinata and Nguyen both were members of DrinkOrDie. Kartadinata operated an electronic mail server for the group, and Nguyen managed several of the file servers that contained thousands of pirated software titles, including Windows operating systems and various utility programs. The file servers also contained video games and DVD movies, which were often made available to group members prior to the commercial release at movie theaters. According to information which previously appeared on the DrinkOrDie web site, the group said it acquired, hacked and distributed various software products, including Windows 95, weeks before the commercial release of the products.
DrinkOrDie was the Warez group targeted in Operation Buccaneer, in which 58 search warrants were simultaneously executed on December 11, 2001 in the United States, Australia, Finland, England and Norway. The searches led to the seizure of more than 100 computers linked to the distribution of pirated copyrighted material on the Internet.
The plea agreements with Kartadinata and Nguyen also reflect how Warez group members operated, which included having strategically situated members . often information technology specialists who worked with corporate or university computer systems . surreptitiously locate Warez computers within the corporate or university infrastructure. Warez computers, which could contain thousands of pirated software and movie titles, were hidden within the computer systems of businesses such as Bank of America and prominent universities such as MIT and UCLA. The Warez computers were located in these places so the Warez operators could take advantage of the enormous communications bandwidth available at these institutions without having to incur the tremendous costs associated with the high-speed service.
The case involving Kartadinata and Nguyen was assigned this morning to United States District Judge Dean Pregerson, who has scheduled a hearing to take the defendants’ guilty pleas on Monday, January 28 at 3:00 (however, the attorneys in the case have asked Judge Pregerson to take the defendants’ guilty pleas at the earliest possible time).
Once they plead guilty, Kartadinata and Nguyen face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison confinement, a fine of $250,000 and possible payment of restitution to the victims of their criminal copyright infringement.
The Los Angeles portion of Operation Buccaneer was investigated by the United States Customs Service. Release No. 02-012
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