Talon White, a professional poker player, has been sentenced to prison for 12 months for copyright infringement and tax evasion.
Talon Gets Cuffed for Copyright Infringement
Talon White, a self-reported 31-year old professional poker player from Newport, Oregon, has been sentenced to prison for 12 months after admitting his guilt and confessing that he ran subscription-based websites, streaming copyright-protected TV shows and movies to users illegally.
The defendant was arrested in November 2019 and charged with tax evasion and copyright infringement.
White was scheduled for sentencing last year, but the trial was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Initially, his sentence was for up to five years of prison time.
Investigators Seized Millions of Dollars
In October 2013, investigators learned about White’s numerous illegal websites, which allowed users to stream and download copyright-protected content. Some of it wasn’t even released to the public at that time, according to prosecutors.
In 2014, White received a cease-and-desist order from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which aims to protect intellectual property rights for movies and TV shows. However, he ignored it and started playing a cat-and-mouse game with the authorities. He migrated his business and subscribers from one website to another, trying to avoid being detected.
Federal investigators searched his Newport property and some of his bank accounts in November 2018, seizing $3.9 million from his account, $35,000 in cash and more than $1 million in cryptocurrency.
White agreed to forfeit all of the seized money from his bank accounts, as well as the cryptocurrencies. He also lost his Newport home, purchased with money from his crimes.
White pleaded guilty in November 2019 to copyright infringement and tax evasion. According to prosecutors, between 2013 and 2017, he also filed false income tax returns, not reporting more than $4.4 million in earnings.
US District Court Judge Ann L. Aiken ordered White to pay more than $4.3 million in restitution to the MPAA and the IRS.
White’s Professional Poker Career
As a poker player, between 2012 and 2019, White earned $100,000 in gross live tournament winnings and finished in 14th place at the World Series of Poker event in 2018. However, he earned much more money from his day job – digital piracy. According to prosecutors, he earned more than $8 million from his websites’ subscription fees. Between February and September 2018, he made almost $3 million.
The investigators were tipped off by online payment providers, including Stripe and PayPal, as well as the MPAA.
Recently, another professional poker player and World Poker Tour champion, Denis Blieden, was sentenced to prison for embezzling $22 million.