KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Five Amazon Marketplace sellers and four companies have been sentenced to pay fines totaling nearly $795,000 on top of serving jail time, home confinement and supervised release for price fixing DVDs and Blu Ray Disks sold on the site.
The Department of Justice released information about the sentences in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Tennessee from an investigation that led to six individual guilty pleas and four corporate guilty pleas.
Those sentenced include Victor Btesh, of New York, and his three companies: Michelle’s DVD Funhouse, MJR Prime, and Prime Brooklyn; Emmanuel Hourizadeh, of New York, Raymond Nouvahian, of New York, Morris Sutton, of New Jersey, Bruce Fish, of Minnesota, and Fish’ company BDF Enterprises, Inc.
According to the DOJ, the individual sellers and the companies conspired to raise and maintain the prices of DVDs and Blu-rays sold through Amazon Marketplace storefronts, which led to the products being sold at “collusive and noncompetitive prices.”
Amazon Marketplace is an e-commerce website that allows third-party vendors to sell new and used products alongside Amazon’s own offerings, the DOJ explained. The site is owned and operated by Amazon.com, Inc.
“Conspiring to fix prices in online marketplaces is a federal crime,” said U.S. Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III for the Eastern District of Tennessee. “These convictions and sentences demonstrate our office’s commitment to prosecuting price-fixing conspiracies and to protecting consumers in the Eastern District of Tennessee from paying inflated prices in online marketplaces.”
Btesh was sentenced to 18 months of incarceration, two years of supervised release, and a fine of $38,000 on August 23. His companies Michelle’s DVD Funhouse, MJR Prime, and Prime Brooklyn were each sentenced to pay $156,520, $125,688, and $61,844, respectively, in criminal fines.
Hourizadeh and Novahian were each sentenced to one month of imprisonment, seven months of home confinement, two years of supervised release and a $55,000 fine.
Sutton was sentenced to one month of imprisonment, five months of home confinement, two years of supervised release, and a $20,000 criminal fine.
Fish was sentenced to six months of imprisonment, six months of home confinement, two years of supervised release, and a $48,750 fine. Additionally, his company, BDF Enterprises, was sentenced to a $234,000 criminal fine, the DOJ said.
“Americans are becoming increasingly reliant on online marketplaces, making it more important as ever to protect them from being cheated on the internet,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Manish Kumar of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “These sentences reflect the Division’s commitment to seeking punishment for criminal antitrust violations wherever they may occur.”