Let me start out this blog entry like this, the only time I physically met Johnny Pockets was that fateful day back in 2006 when I declined to buy his store in downtown Bangor. Though over the years I did hear about how much he hated my guts. From people like Fast Tony, who said “Johnny is really pissed at you cause you took over his rental space and never took the Needful Things decal sign off the front windows”
I certainly didn’t do it to piss off Johnny Pockets. But he didn’t own the rights to the title Needful Things, neither does Stephen King. Maybe the design of the font is trademarked by the publisher and Mr. King. But since I never heard from anyone about it (except Fast Tony). I wasn’t obligated to do shit. And besides I was trying to build up a “Stephen King” section of movies, books and collectibles at the location. Real Collectibles with legitimate signatures/autographs.
Also, when we opened the Ellsworth Edge Video store, many of our customers down there also went into Johnny Pockets “store” in that town. They would come back to Edge and say stuff like, “The guy at Needful Things sure doesn't like you.”
Around this time Johnny Pockets was convicted of two theft-related charges. Here are the links to the news stories and court documents:
Former Ellsworth pawn shop owner convicted of records charges
STATE OF MAINE v. JONATHAN L. TARDIFF
They kind of speak for themselves.
Jump back to 2015, and like I said, I was doing my best to move on in life. Working on EDGE Mobile Trading, doing a lot of writing, brainstorming new business ideas. Then on the morning of August 4th, we got the most unpleasant wake-up call.
Homeland Security with of course, the Brewer Police Department and who knows what other law enforcement agencies they dragged along, all came for Coffee and Donuts. Except, we didn’t have any Coffee and I assume they ate all the donuts before they got to 5 Cross Street.
This being not our first time at the rodeo, we basically stood around and waited for them to finish trashing our home. Leading the charge was Homeland Security Special Agent Loren Thresher, and I didn’t know at the time, I would come to respect Mr. Thresher. Aside from lying to me occasionally, I never felt like he was threatening me or trying to bully me like some of his peers in his line of work tend to do. I really got the impression that he was just doing his job, or perhaps, he was the “good cop” in the operation. Either way, I hold no animosity towards him or really anyone in the presidings against me. My goal in writing this blog is to explain my reasoning for never pleading guilty and my belief that this entire criminal copyright prosecution was a facade for a real criminal investigation. All of that said, if my side of the story is entirely told, and if the pretextual prosecution is 100% legal and society thinks the whole thing totally A-OK, then I will proudly go to prison and spend the rest of my days fighting for real copyright reform.
Back to that first federal warrant search, our third concerning the actual investigation. At some point, Loren came to me with paper to sign. It was a list of the items they were taking, computers, dvds, notebooks, duplicators, etc etc…
As he was reading it off, to me, “Yeah, yea, sure, just let me sign it.”
I just wanted them to fuck out of there. I hadn’t had any breakfast, it was already a long day.
As I was signing it. I mumbled something like “Same as before.”
Loren looked at me and said, “You’ve had search warrants served before.”
I was kind of dumbfounded, Christ, there were a lot of the same Brewer PD officers involved in this search. Really? 5 Cross St. had never come up, in their law enforcement knitting circle meetings???
I wasn’t going to say anything when Heidi spoke up, “Yes, there was a massive investigation involving this guy named Jonathon Tardiff and a large Walmart theft ring. Somehow Brewer PD thought we were involved in it.”
Loren just shrugged and watched me sign his paper.
After they left, I apologized to Heidi and we struggled to get through the rest of the day.
That night I shut down the website, findraredvds.com. The next day, Loren came back by with a Target letter and pointed to a list of charges that included Criminal Copyright Infringement, Mail Fraud, Wire fraud etc etc.
He said something like, “If you plead guilty to one of these charges, the rest of them will go away.”
Wow. How generous. That was a short investigation. I called my lawyer.
Six months went by. While there were lots of threats from the federal Prosecutor, James Moore. And very generous offers to plead guilty and that the sentence would only be house arrest. Probably.
I declined them all. I did ask Heidi several times, perhaps even on Day 1. “Do you want me to plead guilty? I will do it if they will let you go.”
She always said, “Let’s just find out what's going to happen.”
She never answered yes, and I asked her for years, even after I was indicted in 2019.
We discussed it a lot obviously and as Christmas approached I started Lostmoviesfound.com. Mainly because I needed the money and I legitimately thought I was right because of Fair Use, Orphan Works and Implied License. To stop now would be giving into Bullies and I don’t do good with Bullies.
I never have.
I always fight back.