A Bucksport woman has been sentenced for aiding and abetting a mail fraud scheme to sell counterfeit DVDs online.
Heidi Pugliese, 54, was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution to defrauded victims in a U.S. district courtroom in Bangor on Nov. 2, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Pugliese pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a mail fraud scheme in August 2019.
The operation was spearheaded by Douglas Gordon of Mattawamkeag, former owner of Edge Video locations in Bangor and Brewer that are now closed. Gordon ignored warnings from federal authorities as he sold more than 48,000 bootleg copies of films on three websites. He made more than $640,000 from sales, according to prosecutors.
Customers who bought the films — which were priced between $9.99 and $24.99 — believed they would receive standard DVDs with a case and cover art. Yet, when the films came in the mail, they arrived in just a paper envelope and a burned disc with a laser-etched movie title, according to court records.
Pugliese — a former employee and girlfriend of Gordon — assisted him in the scheme for 21 months from 2013 to 2015. Pugliese was one of several of Gordon’s former employees to testify against him, doing so as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors
Gordon was convicted of mail fraud and two counts of copyright infringement in October after a seven-day jury trial.
During the trial, Gordon said he did not intend to break copyright law throughout the scheme,
only selling films he believed to have an expired or invalid copyright. Titles offered on his websites included copyrighted material from MGM, CBS and Disney, all of whom testified that Gordon did not have permission to distribute the movies.