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ICE: Chinese man pleads guilty in major copyright infringement case

By CNN Staff
updated 1:32 PM EST, Tue January 8, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Xiang Li was charged with pirating software worth more than $100 million
  • He faces sentencing in May and could receive up to 25 years in prison
  • An alleged co-conspirator is believed to be in Chengdu, China
  • NASA electronics engineer

(CNN) -- A Chinese man captured by federal agents in 2011 has pleaded guilty in a federal court for pirating copyrighted software worth more than $100 million, officials of ICE announced Tuesday.

Xiang Li, 36, of Chengdu will be sentenced May 3, by a judge in Wilmington, Delaware, and could receive a sentence of up to 25 years.

Authorities last April disclosed that Li had been captured by agents of Homeland Security Investigations in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands.

"Li mistakenly thought he was safe ... hiding halfway around the world in cyberspace anonymity," ICE Director John Morton said Tuesday.

An alleged co-conspirator, Chun Yan Li, remains a fugitive and is believed to be in Chengdu, ICE says.

Officials say the men were indicted by a Delaware grand jury on charges of software piracy and illegally exporting technology to China.

Li admitted to selling the pirated materials through his website Crack99 which authorities say harmed more than 150 U.S. companies. They were sold to thousands of customers in 28 states and 60 foreign countries.

The software covered a wide range of applications used in manufacturing, engineering, space exploration, storm water management, explosives simulation and manufacturing plant design.

One of their largest customers was a former electronics engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, who pleaded guilty to copyright infringement last April.

Officials said Cosburn Wedderburn had purchased more than $1 million in pirated software from the Chinese conspirators.

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