YouTuber ‘Omi in a Hellcat’ ordered to forfeit more than $30M in luxury assets after pleading guilty to TV piracy scheme

Followers of the influencer Bill Omar Carrasquillo or “Omi in a Hellcat” will be well-versed in his decadent lifestyle.  

His flashy car collection takes front and center on his YouTube channel, with millions of viewers tuning in to see his Lamborghini Huracán EVO, 1996 Chevrolet Impala, and Ford Mustang. 

Fans have also enjoyed watching Carrasquillo shop for bling, tours of his impressive home – and as of late, updates on his runnings with the FBI for running one of the most “brazen and successful” TV piracy schemes ever prosecuted by federal officials.

Now, the YouTuber who has been sentenced to more than five years in federal prison will have to give up most of those luxuries which boosted his popularity online. 

He pleaded guilty to charges including copyright infringement and tax fraud last year.

As part of his sentencing Tuesday, he was ordered to forfeit more than $30 million in assets, including nearly $6 million in cash, those aforementioned luxury cars, and a portfolio of more than a dozen properties he’d amassed across Philadelphia and its suburbs.

“Thirty million dollars is a lot of money [but] tangible objects aren’t everything,” U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III said. “You have a large following and there may be people who think if you can get away with it, they can too.”

From rags to riches

While prosecutors described Carrasquillo’s crimes — which included counts of conspiracy, copyright infringement, fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion — as serious, much of the hearing focused on his rags-to-riches story.

The 36-year-old influencer-turned-hustler grew up in North Philadelphia and was raised as one of 38 children.

His mother was deported before dying of an overdose when he was still a child.

Meanwhile, Carrasquillo described his father as a drug dealer who was in and out of jail and trained him to cook crack cocaine at just 12 years old. 

Growing up, he bounced between foster care and living with various family members. 

At one point, he claimed, he was staying with a caretaker who had him committed to a mental health facility solely for access to prescription narcotics that his guardian planned to later sell on the streets.

As such, a teenage Carrasquillo got into drug dealing and spent time in jail before quitting to build his multimillion-dollar business – without a high school diploma and little financial backing – which would eventually land him back in illegal territory. 

One of the most successful TV piracy schemes ever prosecuted

Despite Carrasquillo’s lack of formal education, he used cutting-edge technology (at the time), to launch an illegal alternative to the likes of Netflix in 2016.

The company which held various names over the years, including Gears TV and Gears Reloaded, provided its subscribers with hundreds of on-demand movies and television shows as well as access to dozens of live cable channels for as low as $15 a month.

But all of the content was stolen from legitimate services like Comcast, Verizon FiOS, and DirecTV.

Carrasquillo and two other defendants had been hacking the encrypted cable boxes and then streaming and reselling the copyrighted content.

The IPTV services (or internet protocol television), attracted more than 100,000 subscribers and generated more than $34 million in revenue before federal investigators shut it down in 2019 – making it one of the most brazen and successful cable TV piracy schemes ever prosecuted by the Justice Department. 

“There’s something to be said for someone who never had a chance but made one for themselves and who did everything in their power not to be that person they were expected to be,” his attorney Donte Mills told the judge.

A legal gray area

Despite his guilty plea, Carrasquillo and his lawyer both claimed that the successful business had, at least initially, operated within a legal gray area.

Carrasquillo even posted videos in his defense to his YouTube channel last year, explaining that he’d legally paid for subscriptions to all the cable services whose content he was accused of pirating.

In the video, titled “The FBI seized everything from me,” he likened his business model to asking friends who don’t have a cable subscription to chip in if they come over to your home to watch something that’s pay-per-view.

“I’m only guilty of making money,” Carrasquillo said. “I ain’t guilty of nothing else.”

The prosecutors disagreed, doubling down that the practice was always illegal and that his fans should be aware of this. 

“The message to the general public and Mr. Carrasquillo’s many, many fans is that this was a serious offense that should yield significant punishment,” Jason Gull, a senior attorney in the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section said, while highlighting that Carrasquillo had made more money from his illegal stint than “virtually every other copyright defendant I’ve ever seen”.

What’s next for Omi in a Hellcat? 

In addition to a five-and-a-half-year prison term, the judge ordered Carrasquillo to forfeit more than $30 million in assets — the money he personally took home from his business — as well as pay nearly $11 million in restitution to the cable companies he pirated and $5.7 million to the IRS for unpaid taxes.

The federal authorities seized some of Carrasquillo’s assets during a 2019 raid, including his collection of Lamborghinis, Porsches, Bentleys, and McLarens, which will be sold to recover some of the debts. 

Carrasquillo did not fight prosecutors’ request to pay back these debts and he is also selling his Swedesboro mansion and downsizing to do so.

Meanwhile, the judge gave Carrasquillo until May 8 to begin serving his sentence. Until then, he remains free on bail.

He swore on Tuesday’s hearing that once released he intends to focus on his family and legitimate ventures like his YouTube channel.

“This sentence saved my life,” he concluded. 

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