It was somewhat breathtaking back in 2011 to see the multiple accusations of copyright infringement brought against Dreamworks’ movie Kung Fu Panda. While none of the suits appear to have stuck, the case brought by Jayme Gordon stood out, first because it certainly looked, based on his evidence, that he had a somewhat strong case, and then later it became clear that his evidence against Dreamworks was actually a bullshit con he’d trumped up after likely infringing on previous works by Disney. The quick version of the story is that Gordon altered some drawings he’d done previously to look more like artwork in a trailer he saw for Kung Fu Panda, where those original drawings were essentially recreations of art from a Disney coloring book. He also tried to hide all of this by deleting files off of his computer so that they wouldn’t be found during discovery, an endeavor that worked about as well as a flotation device made entirely out of stone. Jesus, this world is a strange place in which to live.
Regardless, as Tim Cushing noted in his post above, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston filed wire fraud charges against Gordon because his attorneys emailed requests for discovery and settlement offers across state lines as part of his scheme. These charges, which come from the same office that prosecuted Aaron Swartz, looked for all the world like charges stacking. Except this particular U.S. Attorney’s Office tends to follow through on the charges.
Which brings us to the present, in which Gordon has been found guilty on all four wire fraud charges and is in serious trouble.
Jayme Gordon, 51, was convicted today by a federal juryon four counts of wire fraud and three counts of perjury. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti B. Saris scheduled sentencing for March 30, 2017. The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and restitution. The charge of perjury provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
Let’s be clear that the wire fraud charges, when compared to how other U.S. Attorney’s Offices tend to handle these things, are purely punitive. The manner in which these offices tend to prosecute wire fraud is one fraught with variance. It tends to come down to whether or not that particular office really wants to hammer the defendant, rather than the law being equitably applied across the entire constituency. Put another way: isn’t the five years in prison and quarter-of-a-million dollars fine ample punishment for what Gordon did?
However you want to answer that question, it seems likely that his sentence will be far greater than that. Even if he serves a fraction of the possible 25 years in prison, it’s likely to be in the double digits. Gordon is by no means a likable character, but that seems out of whack.