A Dakar, Senegal, man was sentenced to 60 months in prison today for his involvement in a counterfeit DVD and CD ring.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney John A. Horn of the Northern District of Georgia, Special Agent in Charge David J. LeValley of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Nick S. Annan of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta made the announcement.
Mamadou Aliou Simakha, 41, was also ordered to pay $70,894 in restitution, jointly and severally with his co-defendants, by U.S. District Judge William S. Duffey Jr. of the Northern District of Georgia. Simakha pleaded guilty on March 10, 2010, to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, to traffic in counterfeit goods and to traffic in counterfeit labels.
After entering his guilty plea, Simakha fled the country, and a warrant was issued for his arrest on April 6, 2010. On March 1, 2016, Simakha was arrested in Morocco and was extradited from Morocco into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) on December 15, 2016.
“Criminal enforcement of the copyright laws plays an essential role in preserving the rights of American authors, artists and creators,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “This group of defendants stole from thousands of victims by mass-producing counterfeit music CDs and DVD movies in a far-reaching pirating operation. As this case demonstrates, we will continue to investigate, prosecute and, if necessary, extradite those individuals who seek to profit illegally by stealing the works of others.”
“Simakha admitted his part as a high volume seller in a conspiracy to produce and traffic millions of pirated music CDs and DVDs which was a leading supplier for the southeastern United States,” said U.S. Attorney Horn. “His decision to flee the country garnered him the statutory maximum sentence he deserves for his many years as a disc counterfeiter and international fugitive.”
“The international extradition and resulting federal conviction and sentencing of Simakha clearly illustrates that the U.S. government will not tolerate the wholesale theft of intellectual property on this scale,” said Special Agent in Charge LeValley. “The FBI will continue to be a significant partner in the fight against such individuals and groups engaged in criminal copyright infringement and counterfeit trafficking operations.”
“Intellectual property theft negatively impacts the U.S. economy, threatens consumer health and safety and funds black market criminal organizations involved in other illicit activities,” said Special Agent in Charge Annan. “HSI will continue to protect intellectual property rights, crack down on counterfeiting, and collaborate with industry and law-enforcement authorities to ensure we conduct effective and efficient intellectual property enforcement.”
At the plea hearing, Simakha admitted that two co-conspirators supplied him with blank CDs and DVDs and Simaka burned counterfeit copies of music and movies onto the CDs and DVDs along with placing counterfeit artwork onto the CDs and DVDs. Simakha also admitted that he was involved in a conspiracy to then sell copies of the pirated works to others.
Simakha was one of 13 individuals charged by a federal grand jury on May 19, 2009, in an indictment alleging various copyright, trademark and counterfeit label offenses. Seven other defendants were sentenced in 2011 to prison terms ranging from probation to five years. The court found that Simakha conspired with co-defendants and others to reproduce and distribute tens of thousands of copyright infringing music CDs and movie DVDs which, if legitimate, would have been worth more than $769,000.
Assistant Deputy Chief John H. Zacharia of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Pearce of the Northern District of Georgia prosecuted the case. The FBI and ICE-HSI investigated the case with assistance from the Atlanta Police Department Organized Crime Unit; Fulton County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office; College Park, Georgia, Police Department; East Point, Georgia, Police Department; the Recording Industry Association of America; and the Motion Picture Association of America. The Office of International Affairs and USMS assisted in Simakha’s extradition from Morocco.