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Intellectual Property Rights

7 Corpus Christi residents plead guilty to making, selling counterfeit DVDs/CDs

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Seven local residents pleaded guilty Thursday to intellectual property rights violations, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

This investigation in Corpus Christi was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) along with the following agencies: Corpus Christi Police Department's Organized Crime Unit, Kingsville Specialized Crimes Task Force, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

William Joseph Henneberger, 32; Ruth Gloria Henneberger, 36; Daniel Justino Diaz, 34; Vanessa Pecina, 30; Leticia Perez Aguilar, 39; Joe Silvas, 43; and Joe Cruz Hernandez, 31, all of Corpus Christi, admitted to illegally reproducing and distributing 10 or more copyrighted works during a 180-day period. The value of the combined losses is $690,297.67.

These guilty pleas resulted from a yearlong investigation into the illegal manufacture and distribution of counterfeit DVDs and music CDs in the Corpus Christi area. HSI agents obtained federal search warrants in August 2012 for three residences and Bomb Records, all located in Corpus Christi. During the execution of the warrants, agents seized more than 58,000 pirated DVDs and CDs along with production materials, including computers and DVD duplicators.

"Stealing intellectual property is not a victimless crime," said Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. "Every American should be concerned about copyright infringement offenses since the cost is ultimately borne by the consumer. The collaboration between law enforcement and industry in this operation shows our joint commitment to protecting the rights of those who play by the rules."

With the exception of Silvas, a local disc jockey who owned Bomb Records, the remaining six defendants were all vendors at a Corpus Christi flea market. All defendants were involved in manufacturing and distributing counterfeit DVDs and music CDs.

All seven who pleaded guilty April 4 face up to five years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000 at their sentencing hearing, which is set for July 9.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugo R. Martinez, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.