Last week, former Team Xecutor member Gary Bowser was sentenced to more than three years in prison in addition to paying Nintendo a total of $14,500,000 in piracy-related damages.
However, pictures taken at his home in the Dominican Republic (thanks, Vice) show that he led an incredibly modest lifestyle; there is very little furniture, and his computer desk is next to the refrigerator. At first glance, this doesn’t seem like the home of someone who made millions selling pirated devices.
Prosecutors in a recent court case described Team Xecutor as “one of the most prolific video game hacking groups” and said Bowser, in addition to being the group’s mouthpiece, also ran a website that hosted illegal copies of over 10,000 video games.
However, Bowser’s attorneys, Michael Filipovich and Christopher Sanders, told the court that Bowser lived a modest life and did not profit much from the band’s activities.
In 2020, Bowser was indicted by the US Department of Justice along with 49-year-old Max Luarne, the leader of Team Xecutor, who was alleged to have recruited investors and developers. Luarne has also set up a group manufacturing unit and a network of global resellers. Yuanning Chen, 36, who ran the distribution company ChinaDistrib, has also been charged, but neither Luarne nor Chen have been arrested at the time of writing.
Bowser’s lawyers argue that “Mr Bowser was used by Max Luarne” and that “unlike the other conspirators who have not been charged, [Bowser] was not part of the social life of the Louarne, which included lavish vacations and parties. In contrast to the lifestyle of Louarne, Mr. Bowser led a modest life in a modest apartment. They also claim that Bowser was paid between $500 and $1,000 a month for seven years to maintain the Team Xecutor websites. the weight of the government’s argument that the court should ‘send the signal’ of general deterrence by giving a lengthy sentence.”
Bowser’s defense team added that prior to working with Team Xecutor, he built a successful interactive kiosk business for the government in Toronto. The sentencing memorandum also states that he was the victim of domestic violence by a girlfriend and that his other girlfriend was killed. His mother passed away when he was 15 and his older brother died in a plane crash. Court records state that Bowser started drinking as his life collapsed. In 2004, he was charged in Canada with defrauding less than $5,000.
The prosecution insists that Bowser was “the mouthpiece through which Team Xecuter’s products were introduced to the public” and that he was “the liaison between Team Xecutor’s enterprise and its customer base. This is not a minor role, but an important one.”
However, Bowser’s lawyers emphasized in their sentencing memorandum that his role in the group did not reflect the harsh verdict:
Mr. Bowser was essentially a paid employee of Max Louarn, with the added benefit of a modest website advertising income. Mr. Bowser did not own the business and did not control the production of bypass devices. The amount he received and the exposure he had to arrest and prosecute, compared to Chen and Louarne, speak volumes about the great disparity in guilt.
Mr. Bowser is a man who wants to be liked, and his generosity is something that others have taken advantage of. In this case, Luarne used Mr. Bowser as the public face of the enterprise, while Luarne remained in the shadows. Now Mr. Bowser alone bears the brunt of this prosecution.
Max Louarne’s Facebook profile remains active and shows it in various glamorous locations around the world, including a 5-star hotel in Paris. According to Vice“Luarne responded to a request for comment, but asked for questions from his lawyers first. He did not respond in time for publication.”