The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California announced that Eric Niemi, 35, of Los Angeles, was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury on one count of criminal copyright infringement in violation of Title 17, United States Code, Section 506(a)(1) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2319(b)(1); two counts of mail fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341; and two counts of wire fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343. According to the indictment, Mr. Niemi is alleged to have registered under different aliases with the online auction company, eBay, Inc., located in San Jose, California, and offered to sell copies of computer software programs developed and manufactured by Adobe Systems, Inc. (“Adobe”). According to the indictment, Mr. Niemi represented on eBay that the Adobe programs he was offering to sell, including Adobe Photoshop 5.0, Adobe Pagemaker 6.5, and Adobe Premiere 5.1,
among others, were legitimate copies of the software programs, not counterfeit or infringing copies of the programs. The indictment states that Mr. Niemi failed to disclose the material fact that he did not intend to provide purchasers legitimate copies of Adobe software and instead intended to provide purchasers a recordable compact disc (“CD-R”) containing a variety of counterfeit Adobe software titles. Mr. Niemi caused buyers to send money orders for their purchase and sent purchasers recordable compact discs (CD-Rs) containing counterfeit copies of multiple Adobe software titles, including Adobe Photoshop 5.0, Adobe Photoshop 4.0, Adobe Photoshop LE, Adobe Illustrator 8.0, Adobe Pagemaker 6.5, Adobe Premiere 5.1, Adobe Premiere 4.2, Adobe Imagestyler, and Adobe Pagemill 3.0, according to the indictment. An affidavit filed by a Postal Inspector in connection with the criminal complaint also alleges that Mr. Niemi used more than one post office box in the Los Angeles area to receive payments made by the purchasers of the software. The complaint states that the Software Information and Industry Association, Adobe, and the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, each identified multiple victims of the scheme in which Mr. Niemi used the names Scott Falco and Erik Knight. The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of the charged statutes is five years and a fine of $250,000 plus restitution if appropriate. However, any sentence following conviction would be
dictated by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and would be imposed in the discretion of the Court. An indictment simply contains allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Mr. Niemi must be presumed innocent unless and until convicted. Mr. Niemi made his initial appearance in federal court in Los Angeles on August 14, 2001. Bail was set at $40,000. The defendant’s next scheduled appearance is at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 29th for arraignment on the indictment before United States Magistrate Judge Trumbull in San Jose. The prosecution is the result of a one-year investigation by Postal Inspectors of the United States Postal Service overseen by the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office. Scott Frewing is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Lauri Gomez. A copy of this press release and key court documents filed in the case may also be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can. All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Jacobs at (415)436-7181 or Elizabeth de la Vega at (408)535-5032.
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