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DirecTV Pirate Given 30-Month Sentence

Nashville, Tenn. – The owner of a Smyrna, Tenn. technology company was given a 30-month prison sentence and fined $2.6 million for conspiring to manufacture, sell and distribute devices designed to steal DirecTV programming, according to K. Vines, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.

J. Jason Tolleson, owner of JT Technology and four of his employees were indicted by a Federal Grand Jury last year on 11 counts of mail fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and violating the Federal Communications Act in a signal theft case initiated by the DirecTV Office of Signal Integrity.

The four employee/co-defendants – Christopher L. Tanksley, William Franklin Rice, Jr., Tracy Dwayne Lee and Bryan Thomas Wilson – were each given probation and ordered to pay DirecTV restitution of between $20,000 and $30,000.

The U.S. Customs Service and the Internal Revenue Service conducted the investigation. The defendants pled guilty to the charges in February of this year.

According to testimony at the guilty plea hearing, the defendants manufactured and distributed equipment and components used to steal DirecTV programming and sold the devices nationwide and in Canada via the Internet, generating proceeds of more than $3.2 million.

‘This was a significant case for DirecTV in that the indictment targeted a manufacturer and distributor of signal theft devices that was nationwide in scope,’ said Rob Hall, DirecTV general counsel. ‘The jail sentence that this individual received is yet another reminder to those who engage in signal theft activities that the federal courts and law enforcement take these cases quite seriously and the penalties can be severe.’