Leader and Co-Conspirator of Android Mobile Device App Piracy Group Plead Guilty

Atlanta, Georgia - The leader of a piracy group engaged in the illegal distribution of copies of copyrighted Android mobile device applications and a co-conspirator have pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme that distributed more than one million copies of copyrighted apps with a total retail value of more than $700,000.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia and Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office made the announcement.

“These mark the first convictions secured by the Justice Department against those who illegally distribute counterfeit mobile apps,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil.  “These men trampled on the intellectual property rights of others when they and other members of the Appbucket group distributed more than one million copies of pirated apps.  The Criminal Division has made fighting intellectual property crime a top priority, and these convictions demonstrate our determination to prosecute those who undermine the innovations of others in new technologies.”

“Copyright infringement discourages smart, innovative people from using their talents to create things that the rest of society can use and enjoy,” said U.S. Attorney Yates.   “Theft is theft – whether the property taken is intellectual or tangible – and we will continue to prosecute those who steal copyrighted material.”

“The wholesale theft of intellectual property as seen in this case cannot and will not go unaddressed,” said FBI SAC Johnson.  “The FBI will continue to work with its various law enforcement partners in identifying, investigating and presenting for prosecution those individuals and groups engaged in such criminal activities that involve the attempt to profit from the hard work and the developed creative ideas of others.”

Nicholas Anthony Narbone, 26, of Orlando, Fla., pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, and Thomas Allen Dye, 21, of Jacksonville, Fla., pleaded guilty to the same change on March 10, 2014.   Sentencing is scheduled for July 8, 2014, and June 12, 2014, respectively.

An information filed on Jan. 24, 2014, charged Narbone, Dye and others with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.  According to the information, Narbone, Dye and their fellow conspirators identified themselves as the Appbucket group, with Narbone as the leader, and, from August 2010 to August 2012, they conspired with other members of the Appbucket group to reproduce and distribute more than one million copies of copyrighted Android mobile device apps through the Appbucket alternative online market without permission from the copyright owners of the apps.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI.  The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Bly of the Northern District of Georgia and Assistant Deputy Chief for Litigation John H. Zacharia of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS).  Significant assistance was provided by the CCIPS Cybercrime Lab, and the Office of International Affairs also provided assistance in this matter.    

Additional information