US Seeks 5-Year Prison Sentence for Nintendo Hacker Gary Bowser *TorrentFreak
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The US government is asking for a five-year prison sentence for Gary Bowser, a member of the infamous Nintendo Team-Xecuter modding group. The prosecution argues that a harsh sentence is necessary to send a clear message to other criminals. Bowser’s attorneys disagree and note that their client was used by other members of the group who, unlike him, likely made millions.
The Team-Xecuter hacking group has been a thorn in the side of big game companies for many years.
The group offered hardware and software solutions that allowed users to install and play unofficial games and pirated copies on various consoles, including the popular Nintendo Switch.
For many years, Nintendo tried to shut down the group, but failed. This eventually prompted the US Department of Justice to intervene and after a thorough investigation, three members of the group were charged in 2020.
Criminal charges effectively shut down the group, but only one member, Gary Bowser, was detained. The Canadian was arrested in the Dominican Republic and deported to the United States shortly thereafter.
Bowser is perhaps best known by his nickname GaryOPA, the operator and a frequent writer on the “MaxConsole” website, which has regularly reviewed Team-Xecuter hardware and other hacking tools.
According to the indictment, Bowser was more than just a writer. The government considers him part of the Team-Xecuter conspiracy. Among other things, he reportedly advertised and trafficked circumvention devices, while maintaining regular contact with dealers around the world.
Bowser initially denied any wrongdoing but, after a few months, he pleaded guilty and signed a plea agreement with the US government. Additionally, he also admitted guilt in a civil lawsuit filed by Nintendo, where he agreed to pay $10 million in restitution.
After the guilty plea, the scale of the sentence is the only issue left in the criminal case. This week, the prosecution and defense submitted their sentencing recommendations to federal court in Washington.
US calls for five-year prison sentence
According to US attorney Nicholas Brown, a five-year prison sentence is warranted in this case. This severe sanction is justified for various reasons, including the extent of the damages awarded to Team-Xecutor in the gaming industry.
“Team Xecuter’s products have targeted multiple businesses over nearly a decade, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in losses. Defendant Gary Bowser played a vital role in the marketing, sale and distribution of the products which caused this loss,” the US Attorney wrote.
The United States also believes that Mr. Bowser is a potential repeat offender and that a significant sentence is needed to ensure that he does not return to his old profession when released.
Sending a message
At the same time, the five-year sentence should serve as a warning to those tempted to continue the work of Team-Xecuter. This includes those who have so far remained out of sight.
“A five-year sentence will warn potential recruits that engaging in this type of criminal conduct will expose them to significant prison terms.” writes the US Attorney.
Interestingly, the US Attorney mentions several news articles that covered this case. This illustrates that the industry is watching the case closely, and perhaps the potential criminals are too.
“There is no doubt that any sentence handed down in this case will be widely publicized within the gaming community as this case is being watched closely.
The overall message of the sentencing recommendation is that Mr. Bowser should serve as an example. While he may not have been the leader of the group, he was a crucial part of it and should be punished accordingly.
Defense seeks 19 month sentence
Mr. Bowser’s lawyers see things in a different light and are asking the federal court to limit the sentence to 19 months, 16 of which have already been served.
The defense admits that Team-Xecutor was a criminal operation that caused a lot of damage. However, they maintain that Mr. Bowser was used by other members of the group who reaped most of the benefits.
“Mr. Bowser was used by Max Louarn. Unlike his co-defendants, Mr. Bowser used his true identity on the website. He took all the risk and reaped the least profit,” the defense writes.
To illustrate this point, the defense argues that the Team-Xecuter group allegedly generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue, while Mr. Bowser received “only” $500 to $1,000 a month.
Based on these and other arguments, Mr. Bowser’s lawyers hope the court will accept a 19-month sentence instead. Considering the circumstances, this is already a significant enough sentence, they argue.
The court will now consider sentencing recommendations from both sides. He is expected to reach a final decision in the near future.