PHOTO: A music store owner and employee were arrested after allegedly selling an SD memory card filled with illegally downloaded songs to an undercover investigator. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
The owner of a Jackson Heights music store and one of his employees were charged last week with selling illegally downloaded music on memory cards to an undercover investigator working for the Recording Industry Association of America on two occasions between July and September 2015, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Evaristo Cruz, 43, of Sunnyside, who owns Poblanos Record Corp. on Roosevelt Avenue, and Guevara Rubi, 31, of Corona, were arraigned last Thursday night.
Cruz faces charges of criminal possession of forgery devices and first-degree failure to disclose the origin of a recording. He was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court on Oct. 20.
Rubi was arraigned on a criminal complaint charging her with first-degree failure to disclose the origin of a recording. She, too, was released on her own recognizance and ordered to return to court on Oct. 20.
According to the criminal complaint, on July 15 of this year, Cruz allegedly sold hundreds of songs he was not authorized to sell on a memory card to an undercover investigator with the RIAA. The investigator walked into the record store operated by Cruz and asked about purchasing music. He allegedly sold the undercover investigator an SD media card for $30. The memory card allegedly held 609 songs, including the music of artists such as Cuban salsa singer Rey Ruiz, Colombian salsa band Grupo Niche, bachata musician Antony Santos and many others.
The investigator visited the shop again on Sept. 2 and asked about purchasing more music. Rubi allegedly said that a USB drive would be $20, there was an additional charge of $20 for the music, and that the investigator should come back later to pick up the flash drive. When he returned he was allegedly given a flash drive with 512 songs on it, including a new song by Romeo Santos featuring rapper Nicki Minaj and many other recordings.
If convicted, Cruz faces up to seven years in prison, and Rubi faces up to four years.
“While some may ask what’s the harm? The fact of the matter is, downloading music without paying for it is a crime,” Brown noted.