18 Months, $308K Bill for Dish Pirate

A New York man has been sentenced to an 18-month prison term and ordered to pay $308,000 in restitution to EchoStar Communications Corp. for charges relating to the piracy of Dish Network’s satellite service.

Walter Buchholz, 68, of Amherst, N.Y., admitted in June to manufacturing and distributing reprogrammed and unauthorized smart cards that were used to steal Dish programming.

Buchholz was trafficking in these unauthorized smart cards, which permit users to unscramble and receive satellite signals without paying subscriber fees. He unlawfully received $308,000 from July 2002-September 2004 as a result of making and distributing the cards, according to authorities.

Buchholz pleaded guilty to mail fraud and violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The guilty pleas and sentence by U.S. District Court Judge John Elfvin followed investigations by the cyber-crime squads of the FBI’s offices in San Jose, Calif., and Buffalo, N.Y.