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Head of Piracy Ring Is Arrested

October 04, 2005|From Bloomberg News

A man who was imprisoned in China for operating a movie-piracy ring was arrested in Los Angeles after being deported to the U.S.

Randolph Hobson Guthrie III, 38, will be transferred to Mississippi to face federal charges after a court hearing Tuesday, officials said. He was arrested Friday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials upon arriving at Los Angeles International Airport on a flight from Shanghai.

Guthrie and Abram Cody Thrush were convicted in April by a Shanghai court of selling more than $840,000 in pirated movies over the Web to people in the U.S. and about 20 other countries. The conviction stemmed from the first joint operation by the U.S. and China to enforce intellectual property rights. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Department of Homeland Security, said the case created a "road map" for working with Chinese officials.

The federal indictment charges Guthrie with criminal copyright infringement, running an illegal piracy ring and illegally importing counterfeit goods.

China is under pressure from the U.S. and companies including film studios and drug makers to crack down on counterfeit goods. Guthrie's ring was selling illegal copies through EBay Inc.'s Internet auctions and on the website, according to customs officials.

The investigation began in September 2003, when a customs agent bought bootleg DVD movies at a flea market near Gulfport, Miss., spokesman Dean Boyd said. It led through various suppliers and "all the way to Randy Guthrie and his penthouse apartment in Shanghai," Boyd said.

Guthrie has been in custody since his arrest by Chinese officials in July 2004. A profile of Guthrie in this month's issue of Wired magazine says he is a descendant of industrialist Andrew Carnegie's business partner and the son of a New York plastic surgeon.

Thrush, who was sentenced to a year in a Chinese jail, was released in July and returned to the U.S. Guthrie was sentenced to two years and six months and fined 500,000 yuan ($61,800).

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