NORFOLK, Va. – Two members of the Internet piracy group "IMAGiNE" were sentenced to prison Friday in Virginia, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Willie Lambert, 57, of Pittston, Pa., was sentenced to 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $449,514 in restitution, and Sean M. Lovelady, 28, of Pomona, Calif., was sentenced to 23 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $7,500 in restitution.
Lambert and Lovelady were indicted along with two other defendants April 18 for their roles in the IMAGiNE Group, an organized online piracy ring that sought to become the premier group to first release to the Internet copies of movies only showing in theaters.
Lambert and Lovelady each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.
According to court documents, Lambert, Lovelady and their co-conspirators sought to illegally obtain and disseminate digital copies of copyrighted motion pictures showing in theaters. Both Lambert and Lovelady admitted that they went to movie theaters and secretly used receivers and recording devices to capture the audio sound tracks of copyrighted movies, referred to as "capping." After obtaining, editing and filtering audio sound tracks and uploading them to servers used by the IMAGiNE Group, Lambert and Lovelady used and attempted to use software to synchronize the audio file with an illegally obtained video file to create a completed movie file suitable for sharing over the Internet among members of the IMAGiNE Group and others.
Co-defendants Jeramiah B. Perkins and Gregory Cherwonik each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. Perkins is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 3, 2013, and Cherwonik is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 29.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Krask of the Eastern District of Virginia and Senior Counsel John H. Zacharia of the Justice Department Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section are prosecuting the case. Significant assistance was provided by the Justice Department's Cyber Crime Lab and the Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs.
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 criminal counterfeiting and piracy. As a 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.