WASHINGTON— The owner of a massive for-profit software piracy website was sentenced in federal court to six years in prison, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg of the Eastern District of Virginia announced today.
In addition to the prison term, Danny Ferrer, 37, of Lakeland, Fla., was also ordered by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III to forfeit the proceeds of his illegal conduct, pay restitution of more than $4.1 million, and perform 50 hours of community service. The ordered forfeiture involves a wide array of assets, including numerous airplanes, a helicopter, boats, and cars, which Ferrer had purchased with the profits from his illegal enterprise. In particular, Ferrer forfeited a Cessna 152; a Cessna 172RG; a Model TS-11 ISKRA aircraft; a RotorWay International helicopter; a 1992 Lamborghini; a 2005 Hummer; a 2002 Chevrolet Corvette; two 2005 Chevrolet Corvettes; a 2005 Lincoln Navigator; an IGATE G500 LE Flight Simulator; a 1984 twenty-eight foot Marinette hardtop express boat; and an ambulance. Ferrer has also agreed to surrender the proceeds of sales of two fire trucks that were also bought with his illegal proceeds.
“Danny Ferrer obtained millions of dollars worth of luxury items by stealing and pirating the works of others. But now, the cars and planes and boats he paid for with the proceeds of his crime are being taken by the government, and he will spend six years in jail,” said Assistant Attorney General Fisher. “The Department of Justice is committed to vigorous enforcement of the law and protection of intellectual property rights.”
“Modern day pirates ought to expect modern day penalties,” said U.S. Attorney Rosenberg. “We are very pleased with the sentence imposed today – one of the longest ever imposed for software piracy – and trust that it sends a strong message to those who pilfer the intellectual property of others.”
Beginning in late 2002 and continuing until its shutdown by the FBI on Oct. 19, 2005, Ferrer and his co-conspirators operated the www.BUYSUSA.com website, which sold copies of software products that were copyrighted by companies such as Adobe Systems Inc., Autodesk, and Macromedia Inc. at prices substantially below the suggested retail price. The software products purchased on the website were reproduced on CDs and distributed through the mail. The operation included a serial number that allowed the purchaser to activate and use the product. Further investigation established that, during the time of its operation, www.BUYSUSA.com illegally sold more than $4.1 million of copyrighted software. These sales resulted in losses to the owners of the underlying copyrighted products of nearly $20 million.
After receiving complaints from copyright holders about Ferrer’s website, an undercover FBI agent made a number of purchases of business and utility software from the site, which were delivered by mail to addresses in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Ferrer pleaded guilty before Judge Ellis on June 15, 2006, to one count of conspiracy and one count of criminal copyright infringement for selling pirated software through the mail.
This investigation was conducted by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Washington Field Office. The Business Software Alliance, a trade association which represents leading computer software companies, provided significant assistance to the investigation. Jay V. Prabhu, Trial Attorney for the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, and Edmund P. Power, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, prosecuted the case on behalf of the government.
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