A man who schemed to steal satellite television signals now has something much bigger than a cable bill to pay -- a whopping $180 million restitution order on which he is to make $500 monthly payments. A full payback would take 30,000 years.
Steven R. Frazier also will serve five years in federal prison on a conspiracy charge. Frazier, 28, had pleaded guilty to a scheme to manufacture and sell devices that would decrypt satellite television signals and allow people to get premium service free. "He will have to lead a long and healthy life," quipped Kenton V. Sands, Frazier's defense attorney. Frazier is not actually expected to pay off the entire amount, Sands added, but the $500 payments are going to put a bite on his budget once he's out of prison. "He'll never end up paying a million of that. That's not a realistic figure," said Tampa attorney Richard Escobar, who also represented Frazier.
U.S. District Judge James Moody ordered the restitution Wednesday, based on a formula of how much Frazier's intended victims, Direct TV and Echostar, would have lost if his scheme had succeeded. The television companies estimate they could have lost $900 million in business. "I think that's the largest one we received," said Larry Rissler, vice president of Direct TV's Office of Signal Integrity. "We take this very seriously." Frazier of Sacramento, Calif., was arrested in Dallas in October by FBI and U.S. Customs agents while trying to board a flight to Mexico. The programming device, called the Mikobu III, which he helped design and develop, was bound for about 5,000 customers.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Peluso said Frazier was no stranger to authorities when he was arrested. In 2000, he'd testified before a grand jury regarding satellite piracy and was allowed to return to California. Instead of mending his ways, Peluso said, Frazier set out to create a better piracy system and soon was regarded among the upper echelon of international satellite pirates. Frazier was in the middle of trying to hack Direct TV's latest satellite card and "he came within a hairbreadth" of doing so, Peluso said.
"He deserves credit for near-genius intellect," Peluso said.
Hilarious... but not for him!
News source: Slashdot.org