Prenda Law Attorney Pleads Guilty to Operating a Piracy ‘Honeypot’

cageymaru

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Apr 10, 2003
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We all know that when lawyers step into a legal matter more than likely it's going to get expensive. But what happens when the lawyers themselves upload their own copyrighted materials to a website known for piracy to create a "honeypot" to catch offenders and then sue them for large sums of money? Is this ethical or even legal? Prenda Law attorney John Steele found out the hard way as he recently signed a plea agreement admitting that he is guilty of mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Steele and his alleged copyright troll partner Paul Hansmeier created sham entities to copyright and upload self made porn videos to the Pirate Bay with the intention of luring Pirate Bay users into downloading them. They would then track the IP address of Pirate Bay users by subpoena. After getting the IP address information, they would sue the alleged pirate for those sham videos and any other copyrighted works that they tracked them downloading at the time. “Steele and Hansmeier used extortionate tactics such as letters and phone calls to threaten victims with enormous financial penalties and public embarrassment unless they agreed to pay a $3,000 settlement fee,” the DoJ writes. Pirate Bay founders were even brought into the case to release logs of the downloads and uploads.

Steele and Hansmeier are looking at a statutory maximum prison sentence of 40 years and many thousands in fines. They allegedly extorted over $6 million from the victims.

No sentencing date has been set yet. In theory, the Prenda attorney now faces statutory maximum sentence of 40 years in prison as well as a criminal fine of hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, by signing a plea agreement Steele is likely eligible for a reduced sentence.

Steele’s co-defendant Paul Hansmeier remains innocent until proven otherwise. However, he appears to be worse off now that Steele’s words can be used against him.
 

Wierdo

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His mistake was not working for the FBI first, can't make criminals out of people for job security without a badge on lol.
 

ir0nw0lf

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tee-hee.gif
 

dain

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THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT LAW ENFORCEMENT DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But rather than giving you the option to pay upfront for your crime, you are ambushed by black ops with guns, forced to pay for a parade of lawyers and court meetings, and then locked in a cage where you will likely be tortured by the others incarcerated there.
 

tesfaye

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Uhm, what's the statutory MINIMUM sentence? So the max is 40 years, so does that mean the guy has a chance to avoid all of it, or get slapped on the wrist with probation and restitution, or some miniscule prison sentence (under 5yrs)?
 

Jim Kim

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THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT LAW ENFORCEMENT DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But rather than giving you the option to pay upfront for your crime, you are ambushed by black ops with guns, forced to pay for a parade of lawyers and court meetings, and then locked in a cage where you will likely be tortured by the others incarcerated there.
The moral of the story is never and i mean never cut into the deepdish pie reserved for law enforcement, lawyers and the criminal justice system.
 

Wrecked Em

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Uhm, what's the statutory MINIMUM sentence? So the max is 40 years, so does that mean the guy has a chance to avoid all of it, or get slapped on the wrist with probation and restitution, or some miniscule prison sentence (under 5yrs)?


With 6 million in his account think it's safe to say this guy won't spend a day behind bars. Probably get a $500k fine at most.
 

Mike89

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Jan 27, 2003
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702
Good to see something like this for a change instead of hearing about grandma losing her house for downloading a movie.
 

w4ffles

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He scammed people out of $6 million? How the hell does it make sense for him not to pay back at least that much?
 

Riccochet

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Apr 11, 2007
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He scammed people out of $6 million? How the hell does it make sense for him not to pay back at least that much?

After the government goes through civil asset forfeiture, takes their homes, money and anything else worth value. Well, these guys are left with nothing. Nothing to hire lawyers. Nothing to live on. Oh, and nothing to pay restitution to the victims. So, really, the only entity coming out ahead here is the government.
 
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