Pinoy shop raided for piracy

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America

May 15, 2014

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Authorities checked out thousands of Filipino videos at this Pinoy owned store along a Long Beach strip mall on Wednesday — not for their viewing pleasure, but as part of an anti piracy campaign.

“May illegal activity pinaparentahan mga pirated DVDs at nagbabenta nila pirated DVDs,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Chris Figueroa said.

“I would say this is a mid-level distribution and manufacturing. But we can’t be deceived by the small mom and pop type of shop because the amount of parts you can mass produce in a very short period of time is really incredible,” Investigator Kris Buckner said.

One unidentified Filipina was arrested during the raid while an arrest warrant was issued for the store’s owner Filipino Fernando Legaspi Bernabe, who attempted to run for the Long Beach City council four years ago.

“The person arrested today, she was part of this pirate organization. The undercover involved in the case made multiple purchases from her. She’s a co-owner of the location. She’s a person that ended up getting arrested and is currently facing felony charges” Buckner said.

As the woman quietly waited handcuffed inside the car, a team of 10 including sheriff deputies and undercover investigators shifted through thousands of discs, as well as copying machines which they say produced the bootleg videos.

About 2,500 DVDs worth over $90,000 were seized. About a fifth of the seizure included ABS-CBN products which the company has made efforts in stopping piracy.

Investigators say from one legit DVD the accused would then rent out copies and as well as sell illegally burned copies for $10 a piece.

You know it’s fake because the picture is weird and there are typos in the print. Then when you open it, there’s a purple glow on the back of the CD,” Figueroa explained.

This is the third Filipino business raided for alleged piracy this year in Southern California. Law enforcement officials have been actively looking for clues and investigating stores, even using help from the public through crimestoppers.org.

Officials say when piracy occurs, workers and communities are eventually the ones affected.

“It’s all over the US and all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of people a year are losing their job due to the risks of counterfeiting and piracy, and with that obviously were not able to fund schools and hospitals because were losing lost tax revenue,” Sgt. Janice Munson of the LA Sheriff’s Department said.

Bernabe, who was not in the store during the raid has not yet been arrested nor has turned himself into police custody. The co-accused remains in custody pending her arraignment.

You can contact Steve Angeles at steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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  • JRB
    16 May 2014 at 8:20 am - Reply

    The FBI should check all pinoy small and pop stores in every state? I bet they will find many pirated DVD? Not only in Los Angeles has pirated DVD. People will do anything for Money. Like in the Philippines alot of piracy is going on?

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