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 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 3 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. Chris Ruge took over for James Moore who prosecuted the case from day one. Mr. Moore retired at the beginning of 2020.
Chris Ruge’s statements were probably benign to anyone else but 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 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 suspicion of one crime but prosecute them 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. Mr. Berg testified at the Marijiuana trial. I believe he was a key witness.
The Prosecutors were very proud of that case, so proud they gave themselves an award for it.
Nothing says a “Job well done” like patting yourself on the back:
I 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 few or dozen blog entries explaining just what I THINK the case is. Because I have no concrete proof, no smoking gun as it were. But if you lay these two cases side by side, it makes the head scratchers in my case make total sense.
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.