Three Charged in $30 Million Cable Television Scheme After FBI and IRS Probe

By Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Reporter
Beth Brelje is an investigative journalist covering Pennsylvania politics, courts, and the commonwealth’s most interesting and sometimes hidden news. Send her your story ideas:
September 22, 2021 Updated: September 22, 2021

Three men have been charged by indictment with crimes arising out of a lucrative copyright infringement scheme, according to a press release from acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. in Philadelphia.

Bill Omar Carrasquillo, 35, of Swedesboro, New Jersey; Jesse Gonzales, 42, of Pico Rivera, California; and Michael Barone, 36, of Richmond Hill, New York were charged, the release said.

According to the indictment, from about March 2016 until at least November 2019, the defendants operated a large-scale internet protocol television theft scheme in which they fraudulently obtained cable television accounts and then resold copyrighted content to thousands of their own subscribers, who could then stream or playback content. The defendants also allegedly made fraudulent misrepresentations to banks and merchant processors to obtain merchant processing accounts.

During this time, the defendants earned more than $30 million.

Carrasquillo converted a large portion of his profits into homes and dozens of vehicles, including high-end sports cars, the release said. When agents attempted to seize those items with warrants, Carrasquillo attempted to hide some of those vehicles, including a Freightliner recreational vehicle and a McLaren sports vehicle.

A detailed listing of charges against individual defendants is as follows:

Bill Omar Carrasquillo is charged with: one count of conspiracy; one count of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; one count of reproduction of a protected work; 19 counts of public performance of a protected work; four counts of access device fraud; six counts of wire fraud; three counts of making false statements to a bank; 19 counts of money laundering; two counts of making false statements to law enforcement officers; two counts of removal of property to prevent seizure; and four counts of tax evasion.

In total and if convicted, Carrasquillo faces a maximum possible sentence of 514 years in prison, as well as supervised release, fines, restitution, and asset forfeiture.

Jesse Gonzales is charged with: one count of conspiracy; one count of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; one count of reproduction of a protected work; 19 counts of public performance of a protected work; four counts of access device fraud; five counts of wire fraud; two counts of making false statements to a bank; and one count of money laundering.

In total and if convicted, Gonzales faces a maximum possible sentence of 244 years in prison, supervised release, fines, restitution, and asset forfeiture.

Michael Barone is charged with: one count of conspiracy; one count of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; two counts of access device fraud; and five counts of wire fraud.

In total and if convicted, Barone faces a maximum possible sentence of 130 years in prison, supervised release, fines, restitution, and asset forfeiture.

“You can’t just go and monetize someone else’s copyrighted content with impunity,” said Bradley Benavides, acting special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “That’s the whole point of securing a copyright. Theft is theft, and if you’re going to willfully steal another party’s intellectual property, the FBI stands ready to step in and shut you down.”

“All income is taxable, including income derived from illegal means,” said Yury Kruty, acting special agent in charge of the Philadelphia Field Office for IRS-Criminal Investigation. “In addition, it is a crime to knowingly engage in monetary transactions involving criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000 that is derived from a specified unlawful activity, such as wire fraud.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher Mannion and Matthew Newcomer, and DOJ Trial Attorney Jeff Pearlman.

Beth Brelje
Beth Brelje
Reporter
Beth Brelje is an investigative journalist covering Pennsylvania politics, courts, and the commonwealth’s most interesting and sometimes hidden news. Send her your story ideas: