RealTime IT News

Two Years For Midwest Counterfeiter

A 36-year-old Indiana man was sentenced today to more than two years in prison for selling counterfeit Rockwell Automation software on eBay. Courtney Smith was also fined $2,000 and ordered to pay $5,200.45 in restitution to Rockwell Automation.

The conviction is the third since December of Rockwell Automation counterfeiters. All three have admitted to buying a counterfeit copy of the company's software in an eBay auction and then selling copies in more than 130 auctions that brought in almost $35,000. The total retail value of the copies is more than $2 million.

The Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation sells industrial automation control and information systems and related services, including visualization software for factory production lines.

At today's sentencing, Smith admitted he purchased counterfeit Rockwell Automation software through eBay and then sold copies of the software in more than 30 eBay auctions, receiving $4,149.97. The copies have a retail value of more than $400,000.

"Mr. Smith exploited eBay to sell hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of counterfeit software at drastically reduced prices, thereby illegally profiting on the back of the copyright holder," Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher said in a statement.

Smith became a target of law enforcement officials through the Department of Justice's ongoing probe into counterfeit software sold on eBay. After an undercover buy, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Smith's residence in Anderson, Ind., on Dec. 15, 2004, seizing computers, CDs and other devices used to manufacture the counterfeit software. Smith has forfeited the computers and other equipment used in the offense.

Last December, two Michigan men were convicted of counterfeiting and selling Rockwell Automation software on eBay auctions that brought in more than $30,000 from more than a hundred auctions. The retail vale of the software is more than $2 million.

James Thomas, 38, of Belleville told investigators he first became aware of the software through his job with the Ford Motor Company. Thomas admitted he knew it was illegal to sell counterfeit software but said it was "easy money." Thomas received $14,626.55 for the illegal copies.

Justin Sabo, 27, of Columbiaville also admitted he knew what he was doing was illegal. He also said he alerted other Rockwell Automation counterfeiters that law enforcement agents were attempting to make undercover buys.

As part of their plea agreements, Thomas and Sabo agreed to forfeit their computers and other equipment. Thomas also agreed to make restitution to Rockwell Automation of at least $15,677.03. Sabo agreed to make restitution of no less than $18,210.84.

Sentencing for Thomas and Sabo is scheduled for April 10.