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Felons to be freebooters



Bootlegging CDs may be a big business carrying big potential penalties ("Getting the Boots," July 10). But despite the maximum 25-year sentence hanging over the 13 defendants arrested in March, several have entered plea agreements that may allow them to walk.;;Nothing is guaranteed. Judge G. Kendall Sharp may decide to throw the book at ‘em -- but a sentencing memorandum filed on behalf of Mark Purseglove states "the defendant is eligible for probation" based on a "2 level downward departure" from the offense level at which he was originally charged. It is signed by both his lawyer and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Phillips. "The court could depart upward or downward" from the guidelines, says Phillips. "They are, however, subject to incarceration.";;But the "downward departure" is significant because, if implemented, it would drastically lower the maximum sentence that Purseglove could receive. In addition, the prosecutor agrees to recommend that the judge go light on the defendant.;;Purseglove was the wholesaler in the operation, selling tens of thousands of discs around the world. His arrest was part of "the largest criminal bootleg investigation of its kind," according to Recording Industry Association of America Vice President Frank Creighton.;;Purseglove’s "offense level" was further reduced when the state discounted the value of his contraband by two-thirds to account for his role as a wholesaler. He agrees to a felony conviction and deportation, plus restitution and continuing cooperation with federal authorities. Purseglove’s plea agreement is similar to several others filed over the past two months in federal court in Orlando.;;Charles Leidelmeyer pleaded guilty to a charge carrying probation and four months of home detention, which would be waived for "time served" in jail while awaiting bond. He will probably receive a $1,000 to $2,000 fine, according to his plea. He will forfeit 22,433 CDs and return to The Netherlands.;;Robert Pettersen’s June 17 plea agreement calls for restitution, asset forfeiture and possible supervised release. When he appears for sentencing, "the United States will recommend to the court that the defendant receive a sentence at the low end of the applicable guideline range." ;;Roger Pascal Moenks pleaded guilty to two counts, each carrying a possible five-year prison term, agreed to restitution, forfeiture, cooperation and assistance. His plea states that he pleads guilty to selling less than 4,000 bootlegs, although his "offense level" is pegged two points higher than Pettersen, who sold multiples of that. ;;Simone Romani agreed to plead guilty to two counts, carrying the same five-year maximums for shipping more than 19,000 bootlegs. His base offense level was among the highest in the case. It was reduced five points, two for agreeing to deportation. Romani will likely avoid time behind bars.;;Note the agreements all stress the defendants’ continuing assistance to federal investigators. Phillips says his department doesn’t comment on "open investigations.".

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