Jeremiah B. Perkins, the former leader of internet movie group IMAGiNE, was sentenced to 5 years in prison on a piracy charge, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.
Perkins, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement in August.
In addition to the prison sentence, Perkins was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution.
The five-year prison sentence and three years supervised release represent the maximum sentence that Perkins faced, but he could have received a maximum fine of $250,000.
According to the Justice Department, IMAGiNE specialized in pirating movies playing in theaters. Court documents indicated that Perkins, of Portsmouth, Va., and his cohorts used receivers and recording devices to capture the audio tracks for movies in theaters, then sync the audio tracks to illegally recorded video files. The group would then share the completed files with members of the IMAGiNE Group and others.
ExtraTorrent reports that the recipients of IMAGiNE's pirated movies included buyers in Asia, who would then make copies and distribute the pirated films in the Asian underground market.
During Perkins' trial, an MPAA representative testified that IMAGiNE was "the most prolific motion picture piracy release group operating on the Internet from September 2009 through September 2011," the Justice Department said.
The Justice Department said that Perkins admitted to renting computer servers in France and other locations for IMAGiNE's use, and also to registering internet domains for IMAGiNE and setting up PayPal and email accounts to facilitate the group's transactions.
Three of Perkins' co-defendants — Sean M. Lovelady, Willie O. Lambert and Gregory A. Cherwonik — also pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and received sentences ranging from 23 to 40 months.
A fifth co-defendant, Javier E. Ferrer, was charged in September and also pleaded guilty to the charge. His sentencing is scheduled for March.
Perkins and his co-defendants were arrested by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations division, which also conducted the investigation.