Previously in 2019, at the "Orphan Works" Trial I was convicted of 2 counts of criminal copyright infringement and 1 count of Mail Fraud. If you want to read about the Trial, click on USA v. Gordon picture on the right.
The point of this blog is tell the backstory of the Investigation, the trial and the case against me.
My sentencing was done on December 22, 2020. I was sentenced by video due to the burgeoning pandemic numbers and I actually requested to do so. I did that because I was quite exhausted by the whole process and I had had enough (10 years of this is enough, show me the light at the end of the tunnel, please). But what I didn’t predict is the seemingly minor things that would be revealed that would actually be major things to me. And the inspiration I would draw from the whole experience.
I was given 60 months in a Medical Prison and 2 years supervised release. My lawyer said you look so calm and I replied, “It was what I expected” and it was. I will refrain from sharing my thoughts about the Judge and his comments. But there were some interesting things Chris Ruge, the Prosecutor said during the sentencing. Chris Ruge took over for James Moore who prosecuted the case from day one. Mr. Moore retired at the beginning of 2020 almost immediately after the PSR was done. (Note: a Presentence Report is a document done by the Probation office but the Prosecution has input. The Judge bases the sentence on the PSR)
So Chris Ruge’s statements were probably benign to anyone else but his words spoke volumes to me.
He said, (and I am paraphrasing because the sentencing transcript has not been made available to the public yet.) “This isn’t a victimless crime.” Now I’ll mostly skip commenting on that one too, except to say that the statement is just propaganda and a pretty standard line for the Motion Picture Association and other lobbying groups that are pro-copyright enhancement and enforcement.
What I want to talk about is when Mr. Ruge said, “We obviously can’t prosecute every person who commits copyright infringement, but we have done it before. A few years ago we had the Berg Enterprises Trademark case. Which is very similar to this case.”
True enough. Trademark and Copyright are both intellectual properties. But what's important here is the other factor that my case and the Berg Case have in common. They were both pretextual prosecutions. Which is when prosecutors target defendants based on the suspicion of one crime but actually prosecutes their target for another. Usually a lesser crime but a process crime, a 'by-the-book' or 'letter-of-the-law' type case, that is easy to prove.
In a nutshell, Berg Enterprises had a federal search warrant served on their place of business in 2011. Ultimately, the owner pleaded guilty of trademark infringement AND being an accessory after the fact for the French /Russell Marijiuana Case. So the marijiuana case was the actual case, the trademark case was the way law enforcement could get their 'foot in the door' and gain more information by bullying Berg Enterprises. Mr. Berg testified at the Marijiuana trial. I believe he was a key witness.
The local federal Prosecutors were very proud of that case, so proud that they gave themselves an award for it.
Nothing says a “Job well done” like patting yourself on the back:
sI know what you may be thinking: “Well what’s the OTHER case in your situation? ‘Cause this sounds like a conspiracy theory to me!”
I’m so glad you asked and I am going to spend the next dozen blog entries explaining just what I THINK the other case is. Because I have no concrete proof, no smoking gun as it were. But if you lay these two cases side by side, the comparsion and potential connection between the two investigations make the head scratchers in my case make total sense.
UPDATE 2021: The final restitution amount was released after my sentencing, the total dollar amount for the two copyright infringement charges was 0.00. That’s zero dollars. So even though the then-prosecutor told the media and the jury that I “stole” almost a million dollars from poor Hollywood, the actual amount is zero. He either greatly exaggerated or didn’t fully understand copyright law or outright lied. I don’t really know. I tried to figure out the mindset of Mr. James Moore for six years and I still don’t understand his motivations. I have theories, which as I said above, that will be explored in future blog entries.
Next time we go all the way back to the golden year of 2006, when the blu-ray format debuted, the VHS format was ejected by Hollywood and I walked into a little shop in downtown Bangor called “Needful Things”.
I want to end this blog entry with the inspiration to make “Copy-Wronged” Star Wars Themed. When I exited my lawyers office after the sentencing this house was across the street. No Copyright Infringement Intended.