A San Fernando man arrested for selling bootleg movies from the trunk of his car was sentenced Wednesday to a year in county jail in one of the steepest penalties to date in the movie industry's war on piracy.
Jose Procopio Aniceto, 35, pleaded guilty to six felony counterfeiting charges after police in May found him selling the DVDs out of his 1996 Buick in the Santee Alley area downtown, which is said to be the center of bootleg movie traffic in Los Angeles.
Police said they confiscated $1,570 in cash from his pockets and 700 bootleg videos from his trunk, including camcorder versions of "Van Helsing," "Soul Plane" and "Kill Bill, Volume 1 and 2."
Under a plea arrangement, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Milton also gave Aniceto a five-year suspended state prison sentence and five years of probation. Aniceto also was ordered to pay $13,500 in restitution to the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
"Strong sentences send an important message to pirates that their conduct will not be tolerated by law enforcement in Los Angeles," said James Spertus, vice president and director of the MPAA's domestic anti-piracy operation. "It shows that those who engage in this activity risk substantial jail terms."
Because piracy is considered a nonviolent crime, vendors trafficking in counterfeit products have often evaded serious punishment, with most violators serving less than a month in jail -- typically only a day or two.
But in Aniceto's case, it was his second conviction in less than a year.
The LAPD arrested him last August, along with his wife, Margarita Zamarippa, for selling DVDs at Santee Alley. Police said they found about 2,000 bootlegs then. Aniceto served 30 days in jail, received five years of probation and was banned from Santee Alley.
Aniceto was back selling pirated DVDs in May, according to authorities. A police report said he paid $60 to rent a parking lot space, selling DVDs for about $3 each.
On the day of his arrest, Aniceto allegedly bragged that if police had arrested him earlier, "they would've found 4,000 DVDs," the report said.
Police suspected that Aniceto was manufacturing bootlegs but could find no evidence of duplicating machines in an August 2003 search of his apartment. His wife was again arrested for allegedly selling DVDs on the street about a month later.