Judge orders man to pay $180 million in restitution

Saturday, June 28, 2003

TAMPA, Fla. -- A man who admitted scheming to steal satellite television signals has been ordered to pay $180 million in restitution in $500-a-month installments -- a payment plan that would take 30,000 years to fulfill.

Steven Frazier, 28, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a scheme to manufacture and sell devices to decode satellite TV signals and allow people to get premium service for free.

He also received a five-year prison sentence.

The scheme was thwarted when federal agents arrested Frazier last fall.

A federal judge ordered restitution Wednesday based on a formula of how much Frazier's intended victims, DirecTV and EchoStar, would have lost had the scheme succeeded.

The companies estimate they could have lost $900 million. "We take this very seriously," said Larry Rissler, a DirecTV vice president.

Frazier's attorney, Kenton Sands, said his client is not expected to pay off the entire $180 million, but the installments will crimp his budget once he's out of prison.

Frazier, of Sacramento, Calif., was arrested in October by the FBI and U.S. Customs agents in Dallas while he tried to board a flight to Mexico.

Customs agents tracking his operations found computer chips and hacking gear in his luggage.

At the time, Frazier had about 5,000 customers lined up for the programming device he helped design and develop.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Peluso said Frazier was regarded among the upper echelon of international satellite pirates. The case was heard in Tampa because the first people indicted resided in the area.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: