IPTV Pirate Sentenced to 5.5 Years in Prison, Fined $30M

(Image credit: Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay )

The operator of an illegal IPTV service that raked in more than $34 million and attracted more than 100,000 subscribers has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison and ordered to give up more than $30 million in assets—nearly $6 million of it in cash—by a federal court this week.

Bill Omar Carrasquillo, who had also built up a Youtube following (as “Omi in a Hellcat”) of more than 800,000 by touting his luxury lifestyle, had been accused of a variety of crimes including fraud, copyright infringement, tax evasion and money laundering. He expressed his regrets in an apology to the court during this week’s sentencing, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

“I really didn’t know the significance of this crime until I was picked up [by the FBI] at my home,” he said. “I feel like I let everybody down.”

Carrasquillo’s scheme—dubbed “Gears TV” or “Gears Reloaded”—lasted three years before it was finally shut down in 2019. The illegal service offered subscriptions to VOD and TV shows and access to live cable networks and PPV events at prices as low as $15 per month from companies including Comcast, Verizon FiOS, and DirecTV.

In delivering the sentence, U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III noted that the $30 million fine imposed on Carrasquillo could be a teachable moment for Youtube viewers impressed with the defendant’s flaunting of his wealth. 

“Thirty million dollars is a lot of money [but] tangible objects aren’t everything,” U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III said. “You have a large following and there may be people who think if you can get away with it, they can too.”

In this video posted to Youtube last year, Carrasquillo attempted to defend his actions:

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.