LOS ANGELES - A former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher agreed Thursday to plead guilty to federal charges of operating a counterfeit karaoke business without paying taxes on the sales.
Bill Bene, 44, of Pasadena signed an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to two counts charging him with criminal copyright infringement and filing a false tax return, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
A date for the guilty plea to be heard is expected to be set April 30.
According to the agreement, Bene sold illegal karaoke jukeboxes between 2006 and 2010 and did not report more than $600,000 in sales to the Internal Revenue Service.
Bene further acknowledged that during those years, he illegally copied and sold karaoke songs on hard drives containing about 122,000 titles each, prosecutors said.
Bene also admitted that he did not tell the IRS about the business, even going so far as to ask the IRS in 2008 for relief from back taxes because he claimed that he could not afford to pay.
"Intellectual property crimes are not victimless," U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said. "As this federal case shows, these crimes of stealth hurt the small businesses that do play by the rules, and they also deprive the federal government of tax revenue that could be put to beneficial use." The charges carry a maximum possible sentence of eight years behind bars, a fine of $250,000 or two times the gross gain or gross loss, restitution payments and three years of supervised release, according to prosecutors.
Bene, of Cal State Los Angeles, was a Dodgers amateur draft pick in 1988, but never made the majors.