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5/10/2006
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Xbox Pirates Plead Guilty

The owners of a Hollywood video game store pled guilty to installing pirated games on modified Xbox consoles and could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and fined as much as $250,000.

A co-owner of a Hollywood, Calif. video game store pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to participating in a conspiracy to violate federal copyright laws by pirating and installing video games on specially modified Xbox game consoles sold through the store, according to Thomas Loeser, assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California.

Jason Jones, 34, of Los Angeles, a co-owner of ACME Game Store, pleaded guilty in a Los Angeles federal court in Los Angeles before United States District Judge Edward Rafeedie. Jones’ partner -- Jonathan Bryant, 44, of Los Angeles -- has signed a plea agreement and is scheduled to plead guilty to a conspiracy count on Monday.

Jones admitted in court that he and Bryant modified Xbox game consoles by installing more than 50 pirated games on each machine. Jones had Xbox machines running as demonstrators in ACME Game Store, and he described in detail to customers the advantages of the modifications.

Customers paid between $225 and $500 for modifications and pre-loading of pirated video games, depending on the extent of the modifications and the number of pirated games that were pre-loaded onto the hard drive, documents stated.

Pei "Patrick" Cai, 32, of Pico Rivera, the third defendant who allegedly performed the Xbox modifications, failed to appear in court and is considered a fugitive, officials said.

Cai is charged with conspiracy; two felony violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prohibits trafficking in technology designed to circumvent digital copyright protection technology; copyright infringement; and copyright infringement for profit, according officials.

Jones is scheduled for sentencing on August 7. The statutory maximum sentence for the conspiracy is five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense.

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