SEATTLE — A man who U.S. authorities said was involved in a sophisticated international video game piracy group called Team Xecutor was sentenced Thursday to more than three years in prison.
Gary Bowser, a 52-year-old Canadian who lived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was arrested in September 2020 and deported to face charges in Seattle. He pleaded guilty last year to felonies related to conspiracy and trafficking in “circumvention devices.”
Prosecutors said the scheme was estimated to have caused video game companies between $65 million to $150 million in losses. In his plea deal, Bowser agreed to pay $4.5 million in restitution to Nintendo of America.
Seattle U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said Bowser was a high-level manager in Team Xecuter since 2013 and that he served as link between hackers and the group’s customers.
The group, involving more than a dozen people, developed and sold illegal devices that hacked videogame consoles from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft so they could be used to play pirated copies of videogames.
The group tried to cloak its activities by marketing its products as part of the “homebrew” community of console owners who wanted to develop their own games.
But the true purpose was to allow customers to play pirated games, of which Bowser helped create and support a vast library, prosecutors said.
Bowser administered websites that marketed the group’s products, announced new information about them and answered customer questions.
Two others were charged with Bowser: Max Louarn, 49, of Avignon, France; and Yuanning Chen, 36, of Shenzhen, China. Neither has been apprehended.
Bowser’s attorneys disputed that he was a high-level player in the conspiracy, saying instead that Louarn had taken advantage of him.
They noted that he used his real identity in connection with the group’s website. And, they said, he was paid only a stipend of $500 to $1000 per month, plus some website advertising revenue, for a total of $320,000 over the seven years of his involvement.
The 40-month sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik was roughly halfway between the 19 months requested by the defense lawyers and the 60 months sought by prosecutors.