Some players in the pirate IPTV market view subscription sales as little more than a side hustle, one that brings in a few dollars here, and a few dollars there. No big deal.
That may well be the case but elsewhere in the chain, people are making serious money. Bill Omar Carrasquillo, aka Omi in a Hellcat, openly admits that he made multiple tens of millions from his service, Gears TV. The operators of Nitro TV didn’t make that much, but the amount still contained one or two digits followed by six zeros.
In common with Carrasquillo, legal problems also engulfed Nitro operator Alex Galindo and several members of his family. After being sued in 2021 by US broadcaster DISH Network, Sling and NagraStar, in June 2022 a court ordered Nitro’s operators to pay more than $100m in damages, a staggering amount that won’t ever be recovered in full.
Recovery in part can’t be ruled out, however.
Plaintiffs Go After the Money
In July 2022, the plaintiffs stepped on the gas by requesting several writs of garnishment at a Texas district court. Believing that the Galindos had squirreled away several million dollars in various bank accounts, the plaintiffs sought permission to find out exactly how much was involved and where it could be found.
Among those contacted were Wells Fargo Bank, Woodforest National Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Bank of America, and Capital One (example response below)
All responses received amounted roughly to the same thing – if there was ever any money, it’s all gone now. In October 2022, the plaintiffs updated the court on their findings, noting that more than $10 million had been spent, relocated, or otherwise disappeared.
Referring to Nitro TV defendants Alejandro (Alex), Anna, Martha, and Osvaldo Galindo as “Judgment Debtors”, the plaintiffs reminded the court of ignored pre-lawsuit cease-and-desist correspondence, failure to shut down Nitro TV after the lawsuit was filed, and destruction of evidence while it was underway.
Then came details of the bank accounts;
– $5.8m deposited into Martha and Osvaldo Galindo’s Chase accounts. Balance: $49.22.
– $3.0m deposited into Martha’s Capital One account. Response: No active accounts
– $1.0m deposited into Anna’s Woodforest account. Balance: unspecified negative sum
– $164k deposited into Alex’s Wells Fargo account. Response: No active accounts
“All told, the entirety of the $10 million that Judgment Debtors are known to have received from their sale of Device Codes has been removed from Judgment Debtors’ accounts,” DISH and Nagra informed the court.
“More than $1.5 million of those funds was transferred to a Galindo family member in Mexico and another $181,730.00 was transferred to Alejandro Galindo’s ex-wife, further demonstrating that Judgment Debtors have taken steps to conceal their illicit proceeds and prevent Plaintiffs from enforcing the Judgment.”
Some assets are less easily relocated, however.
A Very Nice House in Texas
While protection varies from state to state, a homestead exemption can limit creditors’ access to equity held in a home. A property identified by the plaintiffs in Friendswood, Texas, does not enjoy any protection, the plaintiffs informed the court.
“The Friendswood Property was purchased using funds that Judgment Debtors wrongfully acquired from their sale of Device Codes [pirate IPTV subscriptions],” the companies said, referencing the property in the video below.
The plaintiffs said that customer IPTV subscription payments totaling $5.5m were paid into a Paymentech account. Around $5.4m was transferred to a Chase account operated by Martha Galindo, with $925,913 ultimately financing the house in Friendswood, under Alex Galindo’s name.
No Protection, Court Orders Sale of Property
“The Friendswood Property does not qualify for homestead protection under this well-established Texas law because the property was purchased using wrongfully acquired funds that Judgment Debtors received from their infringing Nitro TV service,” the plaintiffs informed the court.
The Galindos could have objected, but did not. On November 30, 2022, the court ordered the United States Marshal Service to levy and sell the property, and apply the proceeds towards satisfaction of the judgment.
The Marshal Service visited the house on December 9, 2022. According to court records, someone inside responded to the official’s knock and ring, but he wasn’t invited into the property. A Notice of Sale was posted on the front door.
A formal notice was later published by The Daily News, the oldest newspaper in Texas. It has since been removed but the key details are as follows:
[The U.S. Marshals Service] will proceed to sell, without appraisement, for cash, to the best and highest bidder, on the first Tuesday in January 2023, that being the 3rd day of January 2023, at Public Auction at the Galveston County Courthouse located at 722 Moody Ave., Galveston, TX 77550 in the commissioner’s court, between the hours of 10a.m. and 4p.m., all the right, title and interest of the defendant(s) in the real property as described below in order to satisfy the judgment issued in the above mentioned action.
At the start of the sale, the Marshal shall set the minimum bid and bid increments, if any. At the conclusion of the sale the winning bidder shall provide the U.S. Marshal with a deposit of ten percent (10%) of the winning bid and the remaining ninety percent (90%) shall be paid within seven (7) days thereafter, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
While large damages awards are often the outcome of pirate IPTV lawsuits in the United States, their scale can at times render them ridiculous to most ordinary people.
The persistence of DISH, Sling and Nagra, shows that while the amounts can be unbelievable, the consequences live on, long after the headlines have been forgotten.
The potential for the consequences to drag on in this matter seems considerable. Even if the property sells for $1 million, the amount outstanding on the damages award will still exceed $99 million.
Related court documents can be found here (1,2,3, pdf)
From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.