After hearing seven days of testimony and deliberating for nearly three hours, a federal jury on Tuesday found that a former Bangor-area businessman pirated thousands of videos and sold them illegally online.
Douglas Gordon, 52, who previously lived in Brewer but now resides in Mattawamkeag, denied he that he knowingly violated copyright laws and committed mail fraud. Gordon owned Edge Video in Bangor and Brewer, both of which are now closed.
Federal prosecutors claimed that Gordon was familiar with copyright law and knew that he did not have permission to make copies of films and sell them online for between $9.99 and $24.99. Jurors also found that Gordon committed mail fraud because customers expected to receive a DVD similar to ones sold at retail stores and large online sellers through the mail.
Prosecutors said that despite being warned by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations in 2015 and in 2017 to cease his illegal activities, Gordon ignored the warnings and continued to unlawfully reproduce and sell tens of thousands of counterfeit copies of copyright-protected motion pictures and mail them to buyers.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Moore maintained that Gordon operated three websites from which he made more than $640,000 in sales of more than 48,000 counterfeit copies of copyright-protected motion pictures. Representatives of MGM, CBS, Disney, Mercury Pictures and other copyright owners testified that Gordon did not have permission to reproduce and distribute the movies. A senior investigator employed by the Motion Picture Association of America identified the DVDs as counterfeit.
Customers testified that, based on Gordon’s website advertisements, they’d expected to receive authorized DVDs with cover art and a plastic case. Instead, they received a paper envelope with nothing more than a burned disc with a laser-etched movie title.
Several of Gordon’s former employees also provided evidence of the counterfeiting operation, including Gordon’s former employee and girlfriend, 52-year-old Heidi Pugliese of Bucksport.
She pleaded guilty in August to aiding and abetting a mail fraud scheme. Her plea agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office called for her to testify against Gordon.
Pugliese’s sentencing date has not been set. She remains free on personal recognizance bail.
Gordon took the stand Tuesday and admitted that he did not intend to violate copyright laws but may not have fully understood them before selling copies of movies online. He described himself as a movie buff who was interested in obscure and cult films only available in VHS format.
He testified that he researched the copyrights of each film and only transferred films to DVD if he found their copyright had expired or was not valid. Gordon admitted Tuesday that he’d learned more about the complexities of copyright law over the course of the seven-day trial.
Defense attorney Stephen Smith of Augusta said after the verdict was announced that his client was disappointed in the outcome and would appeal.
“The defense intends to carefully examine the record and appeal the verdict,” Smith said. “Mr. Gordon is a hardworking Maine businessman who was a staple in the revitalization of downtown Bangor.”
Gordon remains free on $2,500 unsecured bail.
A sentencing date has not been set.
Gordon and Pugliese face up to 20 years in federal prison on the mail fraud charges. Gordon also faces up to three years in federal prison on the copyright infringement counts. In addition, both could be fined up to $250,000 and be ordered to pay restitution.