Three indicted on software piracy charges

DOJ says the men conspired to sell $5M in counterfeit software

Three Florida men were indicted yesterday on charges related to selling millions of dollars worth of counterfeit software through several Web sites, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Maurice A. Robberson, 58; Thomas K. Robberson, 54; and Alton Lee Grooms, 56, all of Lakeland, Fla., were each charged with one count of conspiracy to violate copyright and counterfeiting laws, the DOJ said late yesterday.

Maurice Robberson was also charged with one count of felony copyright infringement and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods, while Thomas Robberson was charged with one felony count of copyright infringement and two counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods.

A colleague of the men, Danny Ferrer, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and copyright infringement charges on June 15, and is serving five years in prison.

The men conspired to sell more than $5 million in pirated software, according to the indictment from Chuck Rosenberg, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The men operated BuysUSA.com, CDSalesUSA.com, AmericanSoftWareSales.com, TheDealDepot.net and BestValueShoppe.com from late 2002 to October 2005, and sold counterfeit software from companies such as Adobe Systems Inc., Autodesk Inc. and Macromedia Inc. at discount prices, the DOJ said.

The men manufactured CDs containing the pirated software. The products included labels that featured trademarks and service marks of the legitimate software companies, the DOJ said.

After receiving complaints from software copyright holders about BuysUSA.com, an undercover FBI agent made a number of purchases of business and utility software. Investigators found an "array" of related Web sites, the DOJ said.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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