Duo arrested for piracy

Pair nabbed for illegally posting screeners

Awards season 2006 has its first piracy case.

Law enforcement officials on Monday arrested John Acas and his cousin Sheryl Demesa on charges of stealing and illegally posting online numerous screeners sent to an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences member.

Motion Picture Assn of America investigators located the pics online and used watermarks to trace the pics back to an Academy member. They passed the information on to the Southern California High Tech Task Force, a joint venture of several local police and sheriff’s departments with the FBI. Investigators then pursued the case, eventually catching Acas when he tried to sell the screeners to an undercover informant.

According to the MPAA, Demesa worked at an accounting firm where the Acad member received his mail. She allegedly stole the screeners and passed them onto Acas, who posted them to the Internet.

Acad member’s identity is being kept a secret, as he was apparently unaware that his screeners were being stolen and isn’t being charged with a crime.

The District Attorney hasn’t yet filed charges, but Acas was arrested for receiving stolen property, while Demesa was arrested for burglary and embezzlement.

They’re charged with putting pics including “Infamous,” “Little Children,” “Babel,” “Running with Scissors,” “Marie Antionette,” and “The Dead Girl” online. In addition, law enforcement officials found screener copies of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” “Superman Returns” and “The Queen” in Demesa’s home.