A Newport, Oregon man was sentenced to federal prison today for creating websites to illegally distribute thousands of copyright-protected movies and television shows and evading taxes on the profits of his illicit endeavor.
Talon White, 31, was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.
According to court documents, in October 2013, investigators received information regarding numerous illegal websites linked to White that allowed paid subscribers to stream and download thousands of copyright-protected movies and television shows. In 2014, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), an organization that assists the motion picture and television industry in protecting its intellectual property rights, demanded White cease and desist his illegal activity. White ignored the demand. Over the next four years, White migrated his illicit business and subscribers from one website to another to avoid detection.
By 2018, White had amassed millions of dollars in subscription fees from his websites. Between February 2018 and September 2018 alone, he collected nearly $3 million in fees. In November 2018, investigators served search and seizure warrants on his house in Newport and several bank accounts. Agents seized $3.9 million from his accounts, $35,000 in cash, and more than $1 million in cryptocurrency. Between 2013 and 2017, White also filed false personal income tax returns, underreporting his income by more than $4.4 million and causing a tax loss to the IRS of more than $1.7 million.
On November 1, 2019, White was charged by criminal information with copyright infringement and tax evasion. On November 25, 2019, White pleaded guilty to both charges.
During sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Ann L. Aiken ordered White to pay more than $4.3 million in restitution to the MPAA and IRS. White must also forfeit all U.S. currency and cryptocurrency seized from his bank accounts, in addition to his Newport house that was purchased with proceeds of his scheme.
Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and IRS Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gavin W. Bruce and Amy Potter prosecuted the case.