Feds Indict Warez Members for Piracy

Gretchen Gallen
WASHINGTON – Using the shield of the No Electronic Theft Act – a 1997 law that allows the Justice Department to prosecute individuals who are involved in large-scale illegal distribution of copyrighted works – nearly a dozen warez dealers were indicted this week for their involvement in piracy networks that span the globe.

As part of a yearlong crackdown on these groups, Justice has targeted what it is calling “first providers,” or those who are the primary source of creating and distributing pirated DVDs, CDs and all other forms of illegally obtained digital media.

The defendants were charged with copyright infringement over the Internet and conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, according to Justice.

The 10 individuals indicted by Justice are alleged kingpins in eight of the largest warez distribution groups known and will be arraigned on the indictment on Feb. 22 before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in San Jose, Calif.

The maximum sentence for violating the No Electronic Theft Act is three years in prison and two years of supervised release, with a fine of $250,000 for each offense.

More than $50 million worth of pirated materials were obtained by federal officials during the raids, which began in June under the code name “Operation Copycat.” Computers and other equipment used to violate copyright laws were also confiscated.

The defendants named in today’s indictment are: Matthew Thompson, 22, of Lubbock, Texas; David Siloac, 27, of Clinton Township, Mich.; Johnny Russell, 34, of Spring, Texas; Eric Rolfe, 22, of Columbia, Mo.; Phillip Templeton, 24, of Kingsport, Tenn.; Ali Ghani, 28, of Irvine, Calif.; Matthew Fong, 19, of Miami; Jose Soler, 30, of New York; Donovan Kargenian, 31, of El Cajon, Calif.; and Gregory Dickman, 25, of Wilmington, N.C.