Two defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully reproduce and distribute copyrighted music over the Internet.
Arthur Gomez, 25, of La Habra, Calif., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema. His sentencing has been scheduled for July 13, 2007, at 9:00 a.m. Sergey Ribiakost, 21, of Bardonia, N.Y., pleaded guilty on April 17, 2007, before U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris. His sentencing is scheduled for July 10, 2007, at 1:00 p.m. Both defendants pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and face up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release.
Gomez and Ribiakost were leading members in the illegal software, game, movie and music trade online, commonly referred to as the warez scene. The defendants were active members of the pre-release music group Apocalypse Crew (APC), one of a handful of organized online criminal groups that acted as "first-providers" of much of the pirated music available on the Internet.
Ribiakost and Gomez represent the 46th and 47th convictions resulting from Operation FastLink, an ongoing federal crackdown against the organized piracy groups responsible for most of the first stage of illegal distribution of copyrighted movies, software, games and music on the Internet.
Operation FastLink has resulted, to date, in more than 120 search warrants executed in 12 countries; the confiscation of hundreds of computers and illegal online distribution hubs; and the removal of more than 50 million dollars worth of illegally copied software, games, movies and music from illicit distribution channels. Operation FastLink is the culmination of multiple FBI undercover investigations, including an investigation into online pre-release music groups led by FBI agents from the Washington field office.