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Last Updated: Friday, 13 February, 2004, 12:29 GMT
Four charged with 'Oscar piracy'
Oscar statuettes
Preview films of Oscar-nominated films go to Academy voters
Four men have been charged with film piracy offences in the US, including one who allegedly received movies from an NYPD Blue and Godfather actor.

Russell Sprague, from Homewood, Illinois, allegedly copied and distributed more than 40 preview issues of films from actor Carmine Caridi, 70.

Richard Young, Victor Ochoa and Frank Pelayo Jr also face conspiracy charges.

Academy Awards bosses expelled member Caridi after copies of its "screener" preview films appeared on the internet.

Officials said they would not prosecute Caridi, 70 - Det Vince Gotelli on NYPD Blue - who is an important part of their investigation.

He has said he did not know that his friend - described as a "movie buff" - had illegally copied and distributed more than 40 films.

Mr Sprague, who has been indicted on conspiracy and copyright infringement charges, faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.

The three fellow defendants had worked at a Hollywood post-production company called Lightning Dubbs, now renamed Lightning Media. Each faces a year in prison if convicted.

The FBI said there was a "compelling national interest" in pursuing the crimes "vigorously".




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