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Intellectual Property Rights

Virginia man sentenced to 48 months for pirating copyrighted movies

NORFOLK, Va. - Brad Newell, 43, of Norfolk, Va., was sentenced today to 48 months in prison for pirating and distributing copyrighted movies and for illegally filming a movie showing in a local theater following an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

"Protecting the conceptual ideas and creativity of the entertainment industry to ensure that film and television remain a successful American export is a top priority for ICE," said John P. Torres, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Washington, D.C. "We will continue to target intellectual property pirates who traffic in stolen movies for their own profit."

Newell previously pled guilty in Norfolk federal court on June 1, 2010 to one count of criminal copyright infringement and one count of making an unauthorized recording of a motion picture.

According to court records, in August 2009, Newell and Nicholas Skamagos opened a business named "Burn Central" that operated from a Norfolk storefront.  After receiving information that the business engaged in "pirating" or illegally copying and distributing copyrighted movies that had not yet been released to DVD, agents with ICE HSI began investigating Newell and others working at Burn Central.  During the investigation, ICE HSI agents bought numerous pirated movies from Newell and Burn Central, as well as a machine capable of simultaneously making seven copies from a single master DVD.

On April 9, 2010, ICE HSI agents executed five warrants to seize evidence from Burn Central and other premises used in furtherance of illegal copyright piracy.  At Burn Central, agents arrested Newell and seized 300 illegal copies of the movie "Clash of the Titans," which were being readied for sale on the upcoming weekend.  Agents also seized a video camera that Newell used for "camming" or illegally filming the movie "Clash of the Titans" then showing at a Chesapeake movie theater.  As part of his plea agreement, Newell agreed to forfeit more than 1500 copies of pirated movies, approximately $28,505 in cash, and assorted computer and electronic equipment used in furtherance of his illegal activities.

Newell's business partner, Nicholas Skamagos, and a Burn Central employee, Kiah Fields, previously pled guilty and were sentenced to six and five months, respectively, for their roles in the illegal activities conducted at Burn Central.

This case was investigated by the ICE HSI offices in Washington, D.C. and Norfolk.

For more information, visit www.ice.gov.