[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

Two members of the Internet piracy group IMAGiNE were sentenced to prison in Virginia.

Willie Lambert, 57, of Pittston, Pa., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in the Eastern District of Virginia to serve 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $449,514 in restitution, jointly and severally with co-defendants.  Sean M. Lovelady, 28, of Pomona, Calif., was sentenced  by Judge Wright Allen to 23 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $7,500 in restitution.

Mr. Lambert and Mr. Lovelady were indicted along with two other defendants on April 18, 2012, for their roles in the IMAGiNE Group, an organized online piracy ring that sought to become the premier group to first release to the Internet copies of movies only showing in theaters.

Mr. Lovelady and Mr.Lambert each pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement on May 9, 2012, and June 22, 2012, respectively.

According to court documents, Mr. Lambert, Mr. Lovelady and their co-conspirators sought to illegally obtain and disseminate digital copies of copyrighted motion pictures showing in theaters.  Both Mr. Lovelady and Mr. Lambert admitted that they went to movie theaters and secretly used receivers and recording devices to capture the audio sound tracks of copyrighted movies (referred to as “capping”). After obtaining, editing and filtering audio sound tracks and uploading them to servers utilized by the IMAGiNE Group, they used and attempted to use software to synchronize the audio file with an illegally obtained video file to create a completed movie file suitable for sharing over the Internet among members of the IMAGiNE Group and others.

Co-defendants Jeramiah B. Perkins and Gregory Cherwonik each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement on Aug. 29, 2012, and July 11, 2012, respectively.  Mr. Perkins is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 3, 2013, and Mr. Cherwonik is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 29, 2012.

The investigation of the case and the arrests were conducted by agents with HSI.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Krask of the Eastern District of Virginia and Senior Counsel John H. Zacharia of the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) are prosecuting the case.

The case is part of efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force) to stop the theft of intellectual property.  The investigation was supported by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington.