Pinoy-owned shop raided for selling pirated DVDs in California

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at May 16 2014 10:43 AM | Updated as of May 17 2014 02:02 AM

LONG BEACH, California – Authorities checked out thousands of Filipino videos at a Pinoy owned store along a Long Beach strip mall on Wednesday as part of an anti-piracy campaign.

"May illegal activity na nangyayari na pinaparentahan nila yung pirated DVDs at nagbabenta sila pirated DVDs," Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Chris Figueroa said.

"I would say this is a mid-level distribution and manufacturing operation. This isn't a large scale operating facility, but we can’t be deceived by the small mom-and-pop type of shop because the amount of parts you can mass produce in a very short period of time is really incredible," investigator Kris Buckner said.

One unidentified Filipina was arrested during the raid while an arrest warrant was issued for the store’s owner Filipino, Fernando Legaspi Bernabe, who attempted to run for the Long Beach City council four years ago.

"The person arrested today, she was part of this pirate organization. The undercover involved in the case made multiple purchases from her. She’s a co-owner of the location. She’s a person that ended up getting arrested and is currently facing felony charges," Buckner said.

A team of 10 including sheriff deputies and undercover investigators shifted through thousands of discs, as well as copying machines which they say produced the bootleg videos.

About 4,500 DVDs worth close to about $100,000 were seized. About a fifth of the seizure included ABS-CBN products which the company has made efforts in stopping piracy.

Investigators said from one legitimate DVD, the accused would then rent out copies and as well as sell illegally burned copies for $10 a piece.

"Alam mong fake siya kasi malabo yung kopya tapos minsan mali yung spelling dito sa mga words sa print niya tapos kapag binuksan mo, tingnan mo yung likod ng CD, makikita mo parang medyo may purple glow," Figueroa explained.

This is the third Filipino business raided for alleged piracy this year in Southern California. Law enforcement officials have been actively looking for clues and investigating stores, even using help from the public through crimestoppers.org.

"It’s all over the US and all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of people a year are losing their job due to the risks of counterfeiting and piracy, and with that obviously were not able to fund schools and hospitals because were losing lost tax revenue," Sgt. Janice Munson of the LA Sheriff’s Department said.

Bernabe, who was not in the store during the raid, has not yet been arrested nor has turned himself into police custody. The co-accused remains in custody pending her arraignment.