Days before Super Bowl, ICE seizes websites that illegally stream sporting events

Prosecutors take down 16 sites, bring criminal charges against Michigan man

He may be a National Football League (NFL) quarterback on his way to the Super Bowl this Sunday, but he also has dabbled in crime.

Yesterday, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady admitted during a press conference that while he was rehabbing in Costa Rica last year, he watched the Super Bowl via a website that illegally streamed the game.

Brady’s comment was tinged with irony, as federal prosecutors announced the very same day that they had seized 16 websites that provided access to illegal live streams of copyrighted sporting events, including NFL games, National Basketball League games, National Hockey League games and wrestling matches. They also arrested a Michigan man, 28-year-old Yonjo Quiroa, who allegedly operated nine of the seized sites. Quiroa is charged with one count of criminal infringement of copyright, which could net him up to five years behind bars. Prosecutors say Quiroa received at least $13,000 in profits from companies that advertised on his sites.

“Sports fans may be tempted by illegal streaming websites, but in the end, it is they who pay the price,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “These websites and their operators deprive sports leagues and networks of legitimate revenue, forcing spectators and viewers to bear the cost of this piracy down the line.”

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation unit is investigating the seized sites. Meanwhile, fans who want to legally watch this year’s big game online can do so on the NFL’s website, which will stream the game live for the first time ever.

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