A Corona music store owner and his employee are singing the blues after being charged last week for allegedly selling pirated music stored on memory cards to an undercover investigator.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, Evaristo Cruz, 43, of 48th Street in Sunnyside, who owns Poblanos Records at 95-10 Roosevelt Ave. in Corona, and store employee Guevera Rubi, 31, of 38th Avenue in Corona, allegedly sold illegally downloaded music to the undercover investigator on two occasions between July and September 2015.
The agent worked for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which is actively working with law enforcement to crack down on music pirating.
On July 15, prosecutors said, Cruz allegedly sold the undercover investigator an SD media card for $30. The memory card held 609 songs, including music from artists such as Cuban salsa singer Rey Ruiz, Colombian salsa band Grupo Niche, bachata musician Antony Santos and more.
The undercover agent visited the store again on Sept. 2, when Rubi told him that a USB drive would cost $20 — but he could get music on the drive for an additional $20. He was instructed to come back later for the flash drive and when he returned, he was given a flash drive with 512 songs on it, including a new song by Romeo Santos and rapper Nicki Minaj.
Members of the 110th Precinct, joined by the undercover investigator, executed a search warrant at the store on Sept. 16, the district attorney’s office said. A desktop computer was recovered along with 12 different memory devices with storage capacity ranging from 4GB to 16GB. The computer contained more than 1,000 songs that were counterfeit or pirated.
Brown added that the owner and employee were the first people ever charged with pirating music using memory cards.
“In the past, illegally downloaded music was sold on compact discs or CDs. Now songs are being distributed on even smaller devices — flash drives and memory cards,” Brown said in a statement. “While some may ask, ‘What’s the harm?’, the fact of the matter is downloading music without paying for it is a crime.”
Cruz was arraigned on Sept. 17 on charges of criminal possession of forgery devices and first-degree failure to disclose the origin of a recording. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted and was ordered to return to court on Oct. 20.
Rubi, who was charged with first-degree failure to disclose the origin of a recording, faces up to four years in prison and was also ordered to return to court on Oct. 20.