A North Carolina man accustomed to lifestyle perks due to
earning $14 million from piracy over a five-year period will now have to adjust to life
Daniel Harrell was sentenced in federal court in Raleigh,
N.C., to five years in prison and ordered by Judge W. Earl Britt to surrender $2.4 million
to the federal government.
His attorneys pleaded for leniency for Harrell, who pleaded
guilty to one count each of money laundering, cable piracy and mail fraud, rather than
standing trial on the 28 charges he originally faced.
But Harrell apparently lost any chance for a lesser term
from the judge when authorities discovered, after his plea, that he was still hiding more
than $1 million in a European bank account.
Harrell's legal travails began in 1996, when Time Warner
Cable sued him. Investigators for that company traced some doctored set-tops to Harrell in
Harrell's inventory included hardware doctored to steal the
services of Cox Communications Inc.'s system in Norfolk, Va., and Time Warner systems in
San Antonio and New York. At one time, Harrell's business -- last known as 360 North,
according to court documents -- employed 20 people.
Time Warner had his assets frozen, but not before he moved
substantial funds to Malta via electronic transfers, according to court reports.
Investigators found that Harrell re-established his
business, and that he may have sold as many as 40,000 more boxes after the Time Warner
suit was filed.
Authorities collected more information on his illicit
business from records seized during the large-scale "Operation CableTrap." One
of the principals indicted as a result of that raid was fellow North Carolina native Trey
Prevost III, who authorities described as a mentor to Harrell.
Ironically, Harrell will serve more time than Prevost, who
mitigated charges against him by providing evidence to investigators.
Also, Harrell's attempt to hide his money worked against
him. After he entered his plea in April, he confessed to prosecutors that a $1.5 million
account still existed in Lichtenstein, which, he said, he had set up for his unborn child.
The fund was set up with an "event of duress"
notice, which meant that if anyone -- even Harrell -- asked about the account during the
first two years of its existence, the institution would deny knowledge of Harrell, even to
the pirate himself. The account holder can only access the money in person.
But authorities believe the account was actually dissolved
for Harrell's immediate benefit.
In addition to the surrender order and jail time, Harrell
was ordered to pay attorney's fees for Time Warner and a $75,000 government fine. Time
Warner will also get about $200,000 in restitution.
But Harrell will retain his $365,000 house, his Jaguar, his
vintage Austin-Healy and nearly $700,000. Authorities determined that the cash was
accumulated through the sale of legitimate electronics, like radar detectors.