March 08, 2023
A South Jersey internet personality was sentenced to prison for a piracy scheme that sold monthly subscriptions to illegal cable packages.
Bill Omar Carrasquillo, known as "Omi in Hellcat" to his 812,000 YouTube subscribers, was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison. Carrasquillo was also ordered to forfeit $30 million in assets and pay $11 million in restitution to cable companies and another $5.7 million to the IRS, the Inquirer reported.
Carrasquillo, 36, who lives in Swedesboro, was indicted on fraud, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and tax evasion charges in 2021.
From 2016 to 2019, Carrasquillo and two partners — Jesse Gonzales, 43, of Pico Rivera, California, and Michael Barone, 37, of Queens, New York — created an illegal streaming company that set up fraudulent accounts with Comcast, DirecTV, and Verizon Fios and sold subscriptions to premium content, including pay-per-view events and premium cable channels, for $15 per month.
The flamboyant internet personality, who often flashes his luxury vehicles and mansion, had multiple cars seized from his home in a 2019 FBI raid connected to money laundering and tax evasion.
Carrasquillo initially argued his innocence in a string of YouTube videos on his channel.
"I found a loophole, I ran through it and I did great. There is (sic) other colleagues in the same business I was in, and they never got in trouble with the FBI," he told Fox29.
But after watching a behind-the-scenes Disney Pixar video showcasing all the work that goes into creating film, Carrasquillo says he had had an epiphany by relating his piracy scheme to people selling knockoffs of his merchandise.
The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act makes it a felony to stream copyrighted content, which was also a factor in Carrasquillo's admission of guilt. The bill was signed into law in December 2020.
In 2021, Carrasquillo pleaded for an opportunity to pay what he owes, saying that he was not a "threat to society" and should not go to jail, the New York Times reported.
He pleaded guilty in February 2022. "Ignorance is no excuse," Carrasquillo said. "It's about accepting responsibility."
Carrasquillo has a rags-to-riches story. He grew up in North Philadelphia and sold drugs, which landed him in prison. He stopped selling drugs in 2014, he says, before getting involved in the cable piracy scheme in 2016, which grew to over 100,000 subscribers paying tens of millions of dollars. He also makes money from YouTube content and sells clothing, sneakers, hats, and other merchandise through Reloaded Universe.