Late January, Michael Barone filed an important document at a district court in Pennsylvania. With his freedom on the line, the stakes could hardly have been higher.
The New York man was among several people arrested following the FBI shutdown of pirate IPTV services owned by Pennsylvania and New Jersey man, Bill Omar Carrasquillo.
Better known online as Omi in a Hellcat, Carrasquillo had built an empire of IPTV streaming services that captured Comcast, Verizon, Spectrum, DirecTV, and Frontier Communications broadcasts, and then illegally retransmitted them over the internet at knockdown prices.
Barone had worked for Carrasquillo, initially handling customer support tickets at 25 cents a pop. In the beginning, that earned Barone between $250 and $500 per week, but after progressing up the ranks, pay began to increase. According to his sentencing memorandum, Barone’s total earnings when working for Carrasquillo amounted to $122,402.
Meanwhile, Carrasquillo was raking in tens of millions, and an increasingly nervous Barone wanted out. After allegedly receiving multiple in-person death threats, Barone left Carrasquillo’s business in 2018, but it was too late.
Carrasquillo was arrested in November 2019, and after visits from the FBI in 2020 and 2021, Barone was arrested too. Barone ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. His letter to the court last month was a last-ditch attempt to spend as little time in prison as possible.
Barone Sentenced to 14 Months in Prison
The majority of court filings in the cases against Carrasquillo, Barone, and a third defendant, Jesse Gonzalez, remain under seal. Sentencing documents relating to Barone are also inaccessible, with the exception of a 7-page judgment handed down this week.
After pleading guilty to count 1 (conspiracy) in the superseding indictment, Barone was sentenced by Judge Harvey Bartle III in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Barone was ordered to serve 14 months in prison, in a facility as close as possible to upstate New York.
In a sentencing memorandum submitted to the Court last month, counsel for Barone explained that the New York man had believed Carrasquillo’s claims that the IPTV business operated in a “gray area.”
Barone’s income from a conspiracy said to be worth almost $168 million was relatively small, just $122,402 overall. The judgment orders Barone to pay that exact amount in restitution, with the first monthly payment of $50 becoming due 60 days after his release from custody.
Barone must surrender to the institution designated by the Bureau of Prisons on March 20, 2023. Upon release, he will be on supervised release for a term of two years. Barone will have to comply with numerous conditions, including mandatory participation in a drug treatment program and full disclosure of his financial records to the U.S. Probation Office.
Barone’s legal team had requested a sentence of between 8 and 14 months, so the judgment meets that expectation. The expectations of Carrasquillo and Jesse Gonzalez are currently unknown.
Judge Harvey Bartle III’s judgment can be found here (pdf)