(CTN News) – After offering low-cost subscriptions to watch Premier League games to tens of thousands of subscribers, five members of an illegal streaming gang were sentenced to more than 30 years in prison.
At least 50,000 clients and resellers contributed to the business’s total revenue of over £7 million. Mark Gould, the judge called the “driving force,” was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering, and contempt of court on Tuesday and sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Premier League Hails Longest-Ever Sentences for Piracy-Related Crimes
Two counts of conspiracy to defraud resulted in a five-year-and-nine-month prison sentence for Steven Gordon. After Peter Jolley hid £500,000 in his parents’ bank accounts, he was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to defraud and one count of money laundering and given a five-year and two-month prison sentence.
According to the Premier League, Christopher Felvus was sentenced to three years and eleven months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy to defraud.
William Brown, who entered a not-guilty plea, said he was an informant working for the police. The Premier League, however, claims that the 33-year-old hacked into the accounts of real customers to access and duplicate streams so that they might take the fall if the perpetrator were ever caught. According to the Premier League, he received a sentence of 4 years and 9 months in prison.
“The sentences handed down, which are the longest sentences ever issued for piracy-related crimes, vindicate the efforts made to bring these individuals to justice and reflect the severity and extent of the crimes,” said Kevin Plumb, a Premier League lawyer.
According to the Premier League, which makes billions of pounds a year from broadcast rights, the streaming companies — Flawless, Shared VPS, and Optimal — offered live Premier League matches and global TV networks and on-demand films and series.
Felvus was found guilty of several unrelated crimes, including possessing indecent images of children. After being detained by the Met on his way to the airport, he is now the focus of a second, unrelated inquiry.
Plumb remarked when asked about the prosecution, “This prosecution is another concrete example of the clear links between piracy and wider criminality, a warning we repeatedly make.”
A rare private prosecution ensued after three persons were charged in 2019 with facilitating unlawful streaming to over a thousand establishments in England and Wales. They got 17 years in prison for everything.
“The opportunity to sell our broadcast rights allows the Premier League to significantly contribute to the entire football pyramid. We’re glad that the courts continue showing that they understand the significance of protecting the Premier League’s rights, as Plumb put it.