Newark, N.J. -- A California-based pirate who was caught in
a multimillion-dollar sting operation in New Jersey by the FBI has pleaded guilty to
perjury and bail-jumping charges.
Trey Prevost -- owner of Novaplex Inc. and Gage Systems
Group Inc. in California -- could receive up to 14 years in prison for the original counts
and another 10 years for lying to the court, then leaving the country.
Prevost has been the subject of investigations by cable
operators for more than 10 years. His businesses in California and affiliated sites in
Nevada were raided earlier this decade, following an intensive investigation by
then-Continental Cablevision Inc. The raid resulted in the largest seizure of doctored
boxes in the state.
As a result of that operation, Prevost was ordered by a
judge in Los Angeles Superior Court in 1992 to stay out of the set-top business. Prevost
also negotiated a $2.75 million settlement with the operator to end a civil suit.
Then, in 1995, the FBI's economic-crimes unit
conducted a raid on locations in New Jersey and Florida, culminating a probe called
The investigation resulted in the seizure of thousands of
set-tops, some of which had been stolen from the Los Angeles Police Department's
property stores. The theft ring also had a sophisticated money-laundering scheme set up
through banks in the Cayman Islands. One of the lesser players identified in that raid was
Prevost. He pleaded guilty to charges of unlawful use of cable service, among others,
according to authorities.
But when the suspects were questioned, Prevost allegedly
lied about further assets offshore, and he then fled to Costa Rica at the beginning of
1997 to avoid arrest on perjury charges. When authorities closed in on him again this
year, he turned himself in.
He should be sentenced later this year.