An Estonian computer programmer for the now defunct file-sharing site Megaupload has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison less than a week after he unexpectedly arrived in the United States upon reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Appearing in a dark jumpsuit inscribed with the word “prisoner,” Andrus Nomm, 36, pleaded guilty before a judge in the Eastern District Court of Virginia in Alexandria on Friday morning to one count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement
, in turn resolving for him a three-year-plus legal battle that began with the unsealing of a 13-count criminal indictment against Megaupload and its executives in early 2012.
Prosecutors have long alleged that Nomm and a half-dozen other former Megaupload employees participated in a “worldwide criminal organization” that engaged in copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale by operating a website that made copies of movies, music and other protected works available online without authorization and then rewarded the individuals who provided that content with cash bonuses.
Nomm was brought to the US on Monday and apprehended pursuant to the arrest warrant issued more than three years earlier. The Associated Press reported that a Nomm, a resident of both Estonia and Turkey, had agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors, but the most recent court filing in the case – a document dated Thursday – remained under seal as of Friday afternoon, obscuring for now the latest details from the public.
“This conviction is a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in US history,” Assistant US Attorney General Caldwell said in a statement after Friday’s hearing. “The Mega conspirators are charged with massive worldwide online piracy of movies, music and other copyrighted US works. We intend to see to it that all those responsible are held accountable for illegally enriching themselves by stealing the creative work of US artists and creators.”
The US government shut down Megaupload in January 2012 and issued arrest warrants for its founder, German-born internet tycoon Kim Dotcom, and six others: Finn Batato of Germany, Julius Bencko of Slovakia, Sven Echternach of Germany, Mathias Ortmann of Germany, Bram van der Kolk of the Netherlands and Nomm. A criminal complaint filed against the men that same month accused them of involvement in a “mega conspiracy” that had generated millions of dollars for the website through subscription sales and advertisement revenue, the likes of which the government said was only made possible by providing a service that unlawfully afforded customers access to copyrighted materials.
Members of the so-called “mega conspiracy” were initially charged with more than a dozen counts, including conspiracy to committee racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, criminal copyright infringement and wire fraud. With the exception of Nomm, however, all co-defendants have so far defied US-led attempts for extradition and avoided thus far standing trial in the US.