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Modern Vintage Gamer: Team Xecuter - The story of the infamous Nintendo Switch Modding Group

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

Team Xecuter is a notorious scene modding group that started all the way back in 2002. They are currently involved in a piracy lawsuit vs Nintendo for the sale of their SXOS line of modchip products for the Nintendo Switch. In this episode we take a look at their past, the present and what's in store for the future of the group?
 

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

Bowser was a member of a hacking group called Team-Xecuter, which in 2013 began creating and selling circumvention devices enabling users to play illegal ROMs on consoles, including Switch and 3DS.

According to the US government, the group’s criminal enterprise generated tens of millions of dollars in sales and resulted in up to $150 million in losses to victims.

Bowser was arrested in September 2020 and appeared in court last October charged with 11 felony counts. Instead of facing trial, he pled guilty to two counts and offered to pay Nintendo $4.5 million.

The prosecution agreed to waive all other charges, but the judge warned that despite his plea bargain, Bowser could still face prison time, with each of the two counts he pled guilty to punishable by up to five years in prison.

In new court filings spotted by Eurogamer, the US government and Bowser’s defence put forward their recommendations to the judge who will decide Bowser’s fate.

The government recommends that the court impose a sentence of 60 months, followed by three years of supervised release, in addition to the $4.5 million fine.

“While this sentence is greater than the sentence recommended by the Probation Office, it is the right sentence for this significant case,” it claims.

“A 60-month sentence is appropriate given the nature and circumstances of the offense, the history and characteristics of the defendant, and the need for the sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense, to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct, and to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities.”

Bowser’s legal team has asked the court to impose a 19-month prison sentence, which would see him released in three months given time already served.

It argues that Bowser was the least culpable member of Team-Xecuter, and that he’s being asked to “take the full brunt of the government’s argument that the Court must ‘send a message’ of general deterrence by imposing a lengthy term”.

Bowser’s defence estimates he earned a total of $320,000 over a seven-year spell running websites advertising the illegal products, hosting forums, and providing customer support.

“Mr. Bowser played a significant role, but he was not the leader, was not in control of the enterprise, and was not the manufacturer of the devices,” it says. “Without [fugitive co-defendants] Chen or Louarn, there would be no enterprise. But without Mr. Bowser, Louarn would have found someone else to be ‘the face’ of this effort.”

In a separate civil case ruling last December, Bowser was ordered to pay Nintendo an additional $10 million fine for his part in selling console mods.
 

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

A U.S. federal court has handed down a 40-month prison sentence to Gary Bowser, a member of the infamous Nintendo modding group Team-Xecuter. The prosecution requested a tougher sentence but celebrates the outcome as an important victory nonetheless. This is the first verdict in the Team-Xecuter case and two other defendants have yet to appear in a U.S court.

team xecuterHacking group Team-Xecuter has long been a thorn in the side of major gaming companies.

The group offered hardware and software solutions that allowed people to install and play games – including pirated copies – on various consoles such as the popular Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo had been trying to shut down the group for years but without much result. However, in 2020 the matter escalated when the US Government launched a criminal prosecution of three Team-Xecuter members, accusing them of facilitating copyright infringement.

Bowser Pleaded Guilty
Thus far only one of the three, a 52-year-old Canadian man named Gary Bowser, has appeared at a U.S. federal court. Bowser was arrested in the Dominican Republic, where he lived, and was later deported to the United States where he pleaded guilty.

According to the prosecution, Bowser was the “salesperson” of Team-Xecuter, where he dealt with resellers of the products. He was also known as “GaryOPA”, the operator of the website “MaxConsole”, which regularly reviewed Team-Xecuter hardware and other hacking tools.

As part of the guilty plea, Bowser accepted the possibility of a five-year prison sentence for conspiring to circumvent technological measures and trafficking in circumvention devices.

Last week, the U.S. Government stressed that a five-year prison term was indeed justified. Among other things, this would serve as a warning to others who are tempted to continue the work of Team-Xecuter.

Bowser’s attorneys disagreed and asked the court to limit the sentence to 19 months, of which 16 have already been served. They stressed that Bowser was not the mastermind behind the operation but was used by the people who earned the big bucks.

40 month Prison
Today, District Court Judge Robert S. Lasnik chose the middle ground and sentenced Bowser to 40 months in prison. This comes on top of the $4.5 million in restitution he previously agreed to pay Nintendo.

“These are serious criminal offenses with real victims and harm to the community,” Judge Lasnik said.
 
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