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Old 05-11-2008, 09:24 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default So Im a felon now. This is my story.

(sorry for the long read guys)

I was sentenced on 2/26/08 from an investigation that began in November of 2000. Keep in mind, this all started pre-Napster and pre-mp3 days. To tell you a little about myself, I am/was very much a collector of music since 6th grade or so. When all of this went down, I had a couple thousand cd’s at the time. I would also be going to concerts every other weekend. I am just a very music savvy person.

I was working for a local indie music store at the time when I got my first burner (Pinnacle Micro 1x) and was probably one of the first people in Lafayette to get one. The store owner, 'Hubble' saw the possibilities and propositioned me to start burning his own personal bootleg cd’s (live concerts) to put in his store. He was also a DJ on an underground radio show that had a lot of listeners in the area where he would advertise the bootlegs during commercial time on his show. Seeing this and how open he was with these recordings to the public, I never thought at this point it would be something illegal. In fact just about everybody that dealt with bootlegs back then would simply call it a gray area. It blew up in no time at all. I started ordering blanks 200-300 at a time (keep in mind, this was 1998 so they were still a pretty penny).

After this went on for a few months, he was called by one of his bootleg distributers in Florida, 'Brush', who would update him over the phone with new titles. When a certain title was mentioned, Hubble told Brush that he already had that one. Brush was shocked and asked how he had that particular title already. Hubble told him about me, and that I also kept a webpage for trading purposes where I would get new titles from. Brush wanted to see a copy of my list of titles. Hubble sent it to him and he immediately called Hubble back asking if I would like to burn copies for him in Florida to distribute. Hubble asked me, but I wanted to know if it was something that was illegal- he assured me and my father on two separate occasions that it was nothing I could get in trouble for. With that being said, I bought a duplication tower with 3 burners on it and a CD printer both totaling over $6000 and went head first into doing this for a couple years. This paid for part of my education and all my living expenses while in college. I got so involved with it that I put out over a grand to get some recording equipment to sneak into some concerts with me where I recorded a few shows. What better way to get the newest titles than record them yourself right? A coworker at the music store saw the money that was coming through there and decided to start getting his own titles to burn for Hubble and Brush.

There was a time period where Brush had not paid Hubble for a good while and I was owed a nice chunk of change. I had to find a way to get some money coming in. I had frequented the Mushroom in New Orleans since I was 14 buying bootlegs from them. I brought my list in and talked to the owner. He gave me an order right then and there and expressed that he would love to continue business with me. This went on for a few months until an RIAA associate went into the Mushroom on a few different occasions and purchased Dave Matthews bootlegs. The associate notified US Customs who opened an investigation on the Mushroom which was eventually raided. The owner then gave up all of his bootleg sources including me and what city I lived, worked, etc. They had me on CCTV delivering a box of cd’s in the store. The investigation continued into Lafayette. I was tipped off by a friend who knew they were coming for me. I cleaned out my place as much as I could. US Customs ended up raiding my place 2 weeks later along with the music store I worked at. Imagine pulling up to your house and seeing a bunch of cars out front, you walk in and there are guys in camo with guns and guys in suits with latex gloves on going through your trash. They hauled off my computer, everything attached to my computer, dv camcorder, some music production equipment I had, minidisc player, and a bunch of other miscellaneous things. I split the equipment and bootlegs between a couple of my friends to take away. One of their dads saw the cd’s and ratted his own son out to the prosecutor who in turn got two years probation for being an accessory. Over the next 3 years or so, I watched one by one as my friends were getting subpoenaed to testify in front of the grand jury against me. 12 total. It was a very horrible thing to go through.

Customs was now starting to make a case over some other involvements I had in my earlier years. My indictment came down in November of 2004. It was all over the tv and papers. I was being formally charged with 4 different counts for the bootlegging, 2 counts of possession of electronic interceptor devices (DTV H Card programmer they found in one of the boxes I had given my friend), false identification (they recovered a disc that had a couple altered licenses on it), and tampering with a witness by corruptible persuasion. Not only was I indicted but so were the owners of 4 music stores along the gulf coast, along with Jim Brush in Florida. My attorney and I had decided to go to trial with this. But one by one over the next 2 years, everyone involved pled guilty and took their punishment. Most of them only getting $3000 to pay in restitution and probation. Eventually I was the last man standing and the government obviously did not want to take this to trial so the deals started coming. If I were to turn over the rest of my discs that weren’t accounted for and fully cooperate with the govt with any questions they had, they would grant me 5k1.1. Which in turn is a suggestion in sentencing that the judge can use downward departure on her ruling. Beating every single felony charge in a trial was high hopes so we decided to plead guilty last summer. In turn, I lost the best job I’ve ever had with Schlumberger because of this and have had to turn down many jobs since.

Part of my sentencing as you can see in the below link is to speak on public forums and raise awareness for bootlegging and pirating. Im not a believer in pirating music whatsoever but need to educate those that are and let them know the repercussions if you get caught. This was the worst possible thing I have ever had to go through and would not wish it upon anyone.

I would like to keep this thread on a serious note. My life is pretty screwed iup right now because of a stupid decision I made right out of high school. If you have any questions or comments about the legality of things, I will be more than happy to answer them. I have a pretty extensive knowledge of the law now. (I may be adding to this as more stuff comes to mind)

Cliffs:
got busted by us customs for bootlegging
took almost 8 years for situation to come to an end
have to educate others of my situation for community service

Since I cant post links yet (not at 15 posts). I posted the newspaper link in my profile as my homepage if you want to read about what happened at the sentencing.
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Old 05-11-2008, 09:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 05-11-2008, 11:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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wow. you really didn't think that selling your burns was going to get you in trouble? genius. even back in '98 when i was downloading mp3s off oth.net i knew better than to try to turn it into a commercial venture. especially not to the scale you described. why didn't you just ask the bands directly instead of going behind their backs for your buddies?

like UH said - you fail.
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Old 05-11-2008, 12:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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that sucks dude
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Old 05-12-2008, 07:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Nice to see mature responses in here. Guess I picked the wrong forum for music discussion.

When you are raised going to indie music stores since you are a kid and you have seen bootlegs being sold at these stores in broad daylight for a decade- you tend to think and assume at the age of 17 that it must not be illegal. And when you were downloading mp3's in 98, you probably were downloading pirated album material, not live concerts- as there is a clear difference between the two.
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Old 05-12-2008, 08:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Educating others who might not know about it is fine.
But b4 starting any business, legal issues must be addressed first.
Sorry, but what you did was kinda dumb.
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Old 05-12-2008, 08:38 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Demonoid View Post
Educating others who might not know about it is fine.
But b4 starting any business, legal issues must be addressed first.
Sorry, but what you did was kinda dumb.
Sure, Im not saying it wasnt stupid. All is said and done though. I am just trying to educate others.
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Old 05-12-2008, 11:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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How is your life pretty screwed?
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Old 05-12-2008, 11:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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How is your life pretty screwed?
Well for starters as a felon I lost the best job Ive ever had with Schlumberger. No corp wants to pick up a felon as a network admin. Having to pay back $46k with no steady job is kind of a pain. This threw my life for a loop.
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Old 05-12-2008, 12:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Is there a moral to this story?
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