A Baltimore man faces up to five years in federal prison and millions of dollars in fines after pleading guilty Monday to distributing 1,000 copyrighted software programs, federal officials announced.
In the plea agreement, Naveed Sheikh admitted conspiring to distribute more than 1,000 copies of software like Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat, Quicken and various operating systems using several websites, server space in Scranton, PA and at a Bel Air home between February 2003 and April 2008.
Sheikh allowed purchasers to either download the software or have it shipped to them. Sheikh informed customers that the software had been "cracked"—illegally circumventing copy protection, according to prosecutors. He accepted payments via a P.O. box in Towson.
In addition to possible fines and jail time, Sheikh agreed to pay $4 million in restitution.
According to the facts laid out in the plea agreement, Sheikh set up several fake websites and a post office box under the name of "Turkish Lamps." Customers who paid by credit card saw a charge under the name of "Laundryland," once a Reisterstown laundromat run by Sheikh's relatives which closed in 2004.
Prosecutors said Sheikh misled federal investigators by claiming he had rented his computer space to someone else, whom he had been led to believe was selling computer training programs. Through his attorney, prosecutors said, he gave investigators fake recorded phone conversations with this person. In November 2010, he fled the United States for Pakistan. He was arrested upon returning to the country in January at Washington Dulles International Airport.
U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett set Sheikh's sentencing for 10 a.m. on Feb. 19, 2013.