Alleged Internet Pirate Cleared

SNOW
HILL – A Gambrills, Md. man accused last year of pirating Internet service for
several condominium buildings in Ocean City was found not guilty of the charges
this week in District Court, but the civil case against him filed by the
alleged victim, Comcast of Eastern Shore, continues to plod along.

In
March 2009, Comcast filed suit in U.S. District Court seeking thousands of
dollars in lost compensation and other damages against Frank Clark, 47, of
Gambrills, and his fictitious company OceanNet, for alleged unauthorized use of
the company’s high-speed Internet service for personal gain. The suit alleges
Clark purchased service for an individual account, then used a complex network
of modems and other equipment to supply the Internet service to other
unauthorized third parties within the same condo buildings.

In one
example described in the suit, Clark utilized a single subscription for
Comcast’s high-speed Internet service (HIS) to provide the service to several
units at a multiple dwelling unit on Sand Dune Rd. in Ocean City and the
surrounding area. The distribution of the service to unauthorized third parties
was discovered last September when a Comcast representative conducted an audit
and discovered Clark and OceanNet had improperly tapped into the primary
service line and connected a Comcast cable modem authorized at another address
and his own wireless router, along with antennae to allow him to re-distribute
service throughout the building.

While
the initial suit filed in U.S. District Court by Comcast listed only Frank
Clark and OceanNet as defendants, the case was later amended to include Clark’s
wife Susan and Mashotspots, Inc. Shortly after the civil suit was filed, Frank
Clark was charged in Worcester County with several counts related to the
alleged Internet pirating scam including four counts of cable television fraud
and three counts of cable TV connection without authority or payment.

The
latter three counts were dismissed in December, but the case against Clark on
the first four charges moved on. However, on Wednesday, Clark was found not
guilty on the remaining counts, ostensibly ending the criminal aspect of the
case against him. However, the civil case filed by Comcast in U.S. District
Court has not been resolved.

Last
month, Clark and his co-defendants filed a motion to stay the civil suit until
the criminal charges against him were dispensed with. Last week, Comcast filed
an answer to Clark’s motion to stay the case, pointing out over a year has
passed since the case was initially filed.

 

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