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'Cable Guy' Sentenced for Descrambler Sales

April 18, 1998|TOM BECKER

A Tarzana man, who called himself "The Original Cable Guy," pleaded no contest Friday to selling cable TV descrambling devices, the so-called "black boxes."

Peter Mulder Johnston, 43, was sentenced to 250 hours of community service and ordered by Los Angeles Municipal Court Judge Ronnie MacLaren to pay $5,500 in fines and penalty assessments after Johnston entered his plea to one count of dealing in illegal descrambling devices.

Johnston was also placed on two years' probation, said Ted Goldstein, spokesman for City Atty. Jim Hahn.

Goldstein said it was the first case of its kind prosecuted by the city attorney's office.

The investigation started when two security managers for Time Warner Communications spotted Johnston's Internet advertisement for descrambling devices in which he called himself "The Original Cable Guy." The investigators then discovered that the post office box listed in the advertisement was being rented by Johnston.

The security managers informed the Los Angeles Police Department, which obtained a search warrant for Johnston's residence. The officers seized 309 devices, along with other electronic components and mailing paraphernalia, according to Hahn's office.

Johnston arrived at his residence during the search and was taken into custody and later charged, the city attorney's office said.

During the investigation, officers tested the devices and discovered they did not work on any system, according to Deputy City Atty. Don Kass, who handled the case.

Attempts to reach Johnston Friday were unsuccessful.

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