September of last year IMAGiNE stopped spreading new films via their private BitTorrent tracker UnleashTheNet. As IMAGiNE was among the Internet’s leading BitTorrent release groups the sudden stop triggered speculation that the government agencies were onto them. TorrentFreak then was contacted by the leader of a rival group that this indeed was the case.
A few months later verification came when the group was indicted by the U.S. Government.
In April, Jeramiah Perkins of Portsmouth, Va., Gregory Cherwonik of New York, Willie Lambert of Pennsylvania, and Sean Lovelady of California, were altogether accused with several counts of criminal copyright infringement.
Yesterday, Lambert and Lovelady were the first IMAGiNE members to be sentenced by Virginia District Court Judge Arenda Allen.
The sentences are smaller than the advised 46-57 months sentence suggested by the Justice Department, but higher than any P2P related conviction in the past. Both Lambert and Lovelady were described to have no criminal history and had plead guilty to one count of criminal infringement of copyright.
Willie Lambert, 57, received a 30 month prison sentence and three years of supervised release. Sean Lovelady, 28, was sentenced to 23 months in prison and three years of supervised release.
In addition, the four defendants were ordered to jointly and severally pay $449,514 in restitution to the MPAA.
Aside from multiplying and releasing copyrighted films on their private tracker
they also “capped” films at local movie theaters. The two remaining IMAGiNE defendants also plead guilty in previous months. They’re awaiting their sentencing later this month and early 2013.