Judge Fines, Jails Quebec 'Pirates’

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A judge in Canada has already hit suspected direct-broadcast satellite pirates with a fine and jail time, and they haven’t even been tried for their alleged offenses.

Judge Maurice Lagace of Quebec Superior Court socked the two men, Joshua Lis and Hanan Lis, with fines of $25,000 each, plus 60-day jail sentences for contempt of court. EchoStar Satellite Corp., EchoStar Technology Corp., Nagrastar LCC, DirecTV Inc., and Bell Expressvu Limited Partnership are suing both men in Canada.

A spokesman for DirecTV Inc. said the pair is believed to be the largest manufacturers of pirate DBS hardware in the Canadian province.

The two men do business under several names, including Lis Enterprises, Cyberlabs and Xtreme Technologies and Quebec Inc.

SUED IN DECEMBER

Last December, the DBS companies filed motions in the Canadian court to institute proceedings and get an injunction against the suspected pirates.

In Canada, once defendants are served with an order, an independent solicitor arrives to supervise the search and seizure of evidence.

Once served, the suspected criminals must cooperate with the officer of the court and “provide assistance” to the DBS companies and their representatives in locating “relevant evidence,” according to the court record in the case.

But on July 8, the judge found the two men in contempt of court for violating the search order by tampering with evidence and failing to point out where they had hidden pirate hardware in the walls of apartments under search.

According to the court record, one of the apartments was under surveillance. After they had been served, both men went to the apartment, where observers recorded that the lights remained on all night.

When the search was executed later that day, investigators found four laptop computers with the hard drives removed. The two men said they had purchased the computers without them. However, they were found near a workstation, their battery lights were still lit, indicating they had been recently used. Investigators also found those models are not sold without hard drives.

The judge also noted that almost 1,000 electronic components were found in the walls of the apartment, some of which were stamped with recent shipping dates, meaning they had just been hidden. Investigators also found satellite piracy equipment rolled in a carpet behind a bed in the basement of the building.

NOT IN CONTEMPT

Another defendant, Andrea Iris Katz, was not found guilty of contempt of court. The judge found investigators hadn’t proved that she had caused the disappearance of journal pages sought by the investigators.

The cost of the contempt prosecution could be added to the final judgment against the pair for the main claim of piracy, which is pending.

Plaintiffs indicated, despite the alleged evidence tampering, the searchers had impounded a large amount of devices from the homes searched.

“Dish Network will take action again any illegal use of the company’s satellite television signal. We are pleased with the outcome of this case and we hope it serves as a deterrent to other people who may be tempted to engage in such illegal conduct,” said a prepared statement from EchoStar.

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