This isn't much of a surprise, given our earlier stories. As we noted when the Justice Department indicted
five people for their roles in the Ninjavideo community, they appeared to have a pretty strong case against them. So it really wasn't a surprise that one of the defendants, Matthew Smith, agreed to a plea bargain
, which we noted almost certainly involved him agreeing to testify against the rest. For the Justice Department, that's pure gold. They can then use that to pressure everyone else into plea bargains as well (and each one down gets worse terms). So, it looks like Hana Beshara -- who was "the face" of NinjaVideo -- was the second to fall, taking a plea bargain deal
in which she also pleads guilty. Those two were the big fish. I'd be surprised if the other three don't fold quickly as well at this point. Of course, as with the Smith plea, you should take what they admitted to with a pretty big grain of salt. If you want an obvious sign of how the agreement and reality may differ, just look at the details of the Beshara plea, in which she claims that she personally got $200,000 out of the alleged $500,000 the site made. We're skeptical that the site ever made anywhere close to $500,000 or that Beshara made $200,000. So notice that the $200k number is mentioned in how much she made, but no amount is stated in how much the government took from her:
Beshara admitted that she and her co-conspirators collected more than $500,000 in overall proceeds during the website’s two-and-a-half years of operation, with Beshara personally receiving more than $200,000. As part of her plea agreement, Beshara agreed to forfeit assets seized by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in June 2010, including cash, an investment brokerage account, two bank accounts, a Paypal account and one Internet advertising account.
If ICE got anywhere near $200,000 out of those accounts, they would have said so. They didn't, probably because that money never existed.