The leader of DrinkOrDie, one of the oldest international software piracy rings, has been sentenced to 42 months in prison for conspiring to commit copyright infringement.
John Sankus, 28, of Philadelphia - whose screen name was HellFire spelled backwards - was described by prosecutors as the ringleader of a highly structured, security-conscious group that illegally reproduced and distributed hundreds of thousands of copies of copyrighted works around the world.
Sankus supervised the daily operation of about 65 group members in more than 12 countries.
US attorney Paul McNulty said in a statement that Sankus and his techno-gang "operated in the faceless world of the internet" and "thought they would never be caught."
"They were wrong. These sentences... should send a message to others entertaining similar beliefs of invincibility."
The officials said nine individuals have pleaded guilty in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, as part of the government's investigation into DrinkorDie's activities.
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