Joseph Keegan, of Merrick, with Michael Calabria and Casey Silver, of Manorville and Stamford, CT., respectively, pleaded guilty on Sept. 15 in federal court in Central Islip to criminal copyright infringement.
Keegan and Calabria were principals of Constructure Technologies, LLC, located in Melville, and Silver was a Constructure employee. According to the charges, the three installed unlicensed versions of software by using “cracking” programs or “key generators,” which allowed Constructure employees to activate copies of the software without paying for a license and obtaining a key.
In addition to the guilty pleas, Constructure itself is charged with a felony violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and agreed to pay a $60,000 fine. The fine is part of a deferred prosecution agreement that Constructure has entered into with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. The relevant portion of the DMCA prohibits the criminal circumvention of copyright protection systems, including encryption systems.
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, announced the guilty pleas and deferred prosecution agreement.
“With the guilty pleas and deferred prosecution agreement, Constructure and the individual defendants admit to committing a high-tech theft by installing unlicensed software they didn’t pay for, and cheating software companies of license fees they were owed,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kasulis. “Protecting intellectual property rights is an important priority of this office, and we will continue to investigate and prosecute those who ignore those rights for their own profit.”
Kasulis also thanked the Suffolk County Police Department and VMWare for their valuable assistance with the case.
“The three employees who are pleading guilty in this investigation only saw the profit they could make if they gamed the system. Users paying for security software should be able to rely on the legitimacy of it,” said Driscoll.
According to court filings, between 2011 and 2018, Constructure sold, installed and provided services for computer programs that were copyrighted and then sold by software companies, including VMWare, a global cloud computing software company. Some of those computer programs were designed so that they could not be activated until a user paid the company for a “license” to use that software.
By installing working, but unlicensed, versions of software, Constructure was able to bill a customer for the software, under the pretense that Constructure purchased a copy on behalf of the customer, while not actually paying for it.
From roughly 2011 to 2018, Constructure installed cracked software programs for multiple clients, including clients located in Hicksville, Mineola, Manhattan, and Bridgewater, NJ.
When sentenced, each defendant faces up to one year in prison and a fine.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s the National Security and Cybercrime Section and the Cybercrime Task Force. Assistant United States Attorney David K. Kessler is in charge of the prosecution.
Compiled by Andrew Garcia