Busted for taking camera to Hannah Montana movie
April 14, 2009
The audience at a weekend performance of "Hannah Montana: The Movie" included the usual hordes of young girls, along with a Hoffman Estates man operating a video camera from his seat, authorities said Monday.
Gerardo Arellano and his wife, Maribel Fernandez, both 32, were arrested after police officers found him with the camera balanced on his leg during a showing in South Barrington of the new Miley Cyrus movie, the weekend's top money maker, officials said.
Arellano was charged with trying to make an illegal copy of the film, authorities said.
A search of the couple's home turned up 44,000 CDs and DVDs containing pirated movies, as well as DVD duplicating equipment, Assistant State's Atty. Adam Klugman said at a bail hearing in the Rolling Meadows branch of Cook County Circuit Court.
"Apparently, he wasn't taping this for his own personal use," Klugman said.
Arellano said he is a restaurant worker who lives with his wife, two daughters, a son and his mother in the 200 block of Grissom Lane.
He denied that he was involved in a scheme to sell pirated movies and said the CDs and DVDs found in his home were his mother's.
"My mother saved all of the DVDs, CDs and videos," Arellano said in an interview outside his home. "She saves those."
Sneaking cameras into movie theaters is how most illegal copies are made, said Angela Martinez, a spokeswoman for the Motion Picture Association of America office in Washington, D.C.
"People have made a business out of this, and as the camcorders get better, the quality gets better," Martinez said. "It's how most movies are stolen."
The association estimated the value of the movies found in Arellano's home at $50,000, Klugman said. Authorities also found that Arellano's computer had a link to a Web site in France that sells pirated films, he said.
Arellano is charged with criminal use of a motion-picture facility, unlawful use of a sound-recording device, computer fraud and online sale of stolen property. Bail was set at $20,000.
His wife was charged with criminal use of a motion-picture facility. She was released on her own recognizance.
Arellano said authorities confiscated his computer and his daughters' laptops from his home and the video camera that was found in the theater.
His daughters are Hannah Montana fans and the quality of the copy would not have been professional, he said.
"I was surprised when they had arrested us," Arellano said. "I didn't think I did anything really wrong."
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