Man charged with selling $1.2 million in counterfeit software

A man was arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court on charges of mail fraud and selling counterfeit Microsoft software with a retail value of more $1.2 million.

Bruce Edward, 48 of Atlanta, was charged in an indictment returned on Oct. 24 and unsealed on Nov. 1 by the federal grand jury in Bay City. The indictment charges Edward with five counts of criminal copyright infringement and one count of mail fraud, according to a press release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"Counterfeit products and commercial piracy weakens the economy and is a direct threat to American innovation," Acting Special Agent in Charge William Hayes said.

Hayes said intellectual property theft "amounts to economic sabotage" and that the Homeland Security Investigations plans to aggressively pursue counterfeit products and those who sell them, according to the release.

According to the indictment, Edward unlawfully distributed counterfeit copies of Microsoft Office 2003 Professional and Microsoft Windows XP Professional software. The release says Edwards did this by purchasing counterfeit copies of the copyrighted works from China and Singapore, selling the copyrighted works on eBay and then using the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the software.

The indictment further says that Edward obtained more than $140,000 between May 2008 and September 2010 by selling more than 2,500 copies of the software that had a retail value of over $1.2 million.

If convicted of all counts, Edward faces a maximum of 45 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines. The indictment also mentions a forfeiture allegation that requires the defendant, if convicted, to forfeit all criminal proceeds and counterfeit items and any property used to commit the crimes.

The Edward case will be prosecuted by Thomas Dougherty of the Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, and U.S. Attorney Janet Parker of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.