Accused Streamer Faces 514 Years in Prison

Bill Carrasquillo allegedly stole copyrighted content from cable firms, sold it to his own subscribers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2021 11:37 AM CDT

For most people, getting arrested is, at the very least, an inconvenience. For Bill Omar Carrasquillo, his Tuesday detention was "100% a relief." That's what the 35-year-old YouTuber known as "Omi in a Hellcat" told FOX 29 Philadelphia on Wednesday outside his Swedesboro, NJ, home after being released on $50,000 bail. He is accused of lifting copyrighted movies and TV shows from cable firms like Comcast, Verizon, and DirecTV, stripping that content of its digital copyright markers, then streaming it to his hundreds of thousands of subscribers through his internet protocol television (IPTV) service.

Per the Washington Post, the indictment unsealed Tuesday against Carrasquillo and two associates accuses them of bringing in more than $30 million from their scheme, which they allegedly ran from at least March 2016 through at least November 2019. Carrasquillo apparently used his share of the alleged take to purchase luxury homes and cars, which he often showed off online. His home was raided by the FBI in November 2019, which he says led to the seizure of TVs, cameras, and those high-end cars.

"I'm gonna go to jail for a few years," he informed fans in a YouTube video afterward. Per a recent study by the Digital Citizens Alliance cited by the Post, IPTV has become a billion-dollar piracy business. However, Carrasquillo—who says he dropped out of high school to deal drugs, before turning his life around in 2014, per the New York Times—insists he hasn't done anything illegal. "I found a loophole, I ran through it, and I did great," he told FOX 29. His lawyer concurs, telling the Post his client "tapped into a brand-new, unregulated industry and was very successful." Unfortunately for Carrasquillo, the feds disagree.

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"You can't just go and monetize someone else's copyrighted content with impunity," Acting Special Agent in Charge Bradley S. Benavides of the FBI's Philly unit says in a Justice Department release. As the Post points out, that "few years" Carrasquillo mentioned behind bars may be more like 514 years if he's convicted and gets the max on charges of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, tax evasion, wire fraud, money laundering, and others. As for the sense of relief Carrasquillo says he felt upon being arrested, he explained to FOX 29 that it was because "I didn't know what was going on for two years." (Read more copyright infringement stories.)

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