Defendant Douglas Gordon looks out the window of the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building on Oct. 29, 2019 as he waits for court to resume. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

A former Bangor-area video store owner convicted of pirating thousands of movies and selling them illegally online between 2012 and 2018 was sentenced Tuesday to five years in federal prison.

Douglas Gordon, 53, who previously lived in Brewer but now resides in Mattawamkeag, denied at his October 2019 trial in U.S. District Court that he knowingly violated copyright laws and committed mail fraud. Gordon owned Edge Video in Bangor and Brewer, both of which are now closed.

The loss to the owners of the movie copyrights and distribution sales was estimated at $638,000. Gordon was ordered to pay $555 in restitution to people who filed claims stating they had purchased pirated copies from him.

Gordon remains free on $2,500 unsecured bail but was ordered to report to a prison designated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons on June 23, 2021, so that he might be vaccinated for COVID-19 by then.

In addition to prison time, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock sentenced Gordon to two years of supervised release. Conditions include that he not be self-employed in an enterprise that sells products online or conduct a mail-order business without the approval of his probation officer.

While Gordon said he loved the movies, he refused to pay royalties to the people who produced, wrote and performed in them, Woodcock said in imposing his sentence. The victims expected to receive a quality product that was authorized by law, the judge said.

“I’ve tried to understand the defendant’s viewpoint and how he came to be involved in this scheme, and my conclusion is that the defendant is smart enough and old enough to know better,” Woodcock said. “With all your knowledge about the movie industry, you could have done things the right way.”

Woodcock determined that the recommended sentence under federal guidelines was between nine years and 11 years and three months. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Ruge recommended a sentence in the middle of the guideline range.

Defense attorney Stephen Smith of Augusta urged the judge to impose a sentence of six years and three months, in part because of Gordon’s significant health issues that include multiple strokes, the loss of part of a leg and depression.

Gordon did not address the judge. Smith said Gordon’s conviction would be appealed to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

After a seven-day trial, jurors concluded 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. They 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.

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, the prosecution claimed at the trial.

Based on Gordon’s website advertisements, customers testified that they’d expected to receive authorized DVDs with cover art in plastic cases. 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 ex-girlfriend, 54-year-old Heidi Pugliese of Bucksport.

She was sentenced last month to five years of probation after pleading guilty in August 2019 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.

Gordon faced up to 20 years in federal prison on the mail fraud charges and up to three years on the copyright infringement counts. He also faced fines of up to $250,000 on each count.