Queens music store owner, employee charged in ‘first-ever’ memory card piracy sting operation

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CORONA, Queens -- The Spanish language sign hanging outside the music store - under the “El”, on Roosevelt Avenue in Corona Queens, roughly translates to “We put music on your devices."

It doesn’t say anything about selling pirated music, which is exactly what police say was going on over here the last few months.

On two separate occasions, detectives say an undercover investigator for the Recording Industry Association of America - or RIAA, was able to purchase not dozens, but "hundreds" of stolen, that is illegally downloaded music tracks -- copied onto a small high capacity SD card - similar to what you’d use on your computer or digital camera.

We were told the store owner, 43-year-old Evaristo Cruz of Sunnyside Queens, and his former employee, 31-year-old Guevera Rubi of Corona, Queens, were not around during our Friday night visit.

They allegedly sold thousands of dollars’ worth of music, including tracks featuring Romeo Santos and Nikki Minaj, and popular Latin acts like Grupo Niche.

The total cost for both SD cards - which were filled with more than 1,100 songs?

Just 70 bucks.

According to the charges, said District Attorney Brown, the undercover investigator visited the shop again on September 2, 2015 and inquired about purchasing music.

Marcus Cohen supervises the RIAA’s investigative operations.

“You have to understand, that the, when you purchase these kinds of devices," Cohen said. "And by that I mean DS cards, or any kind of digital storage device, none of the money that is paid, involved in that transaction is going back to the record label - or the record artist, or anybody involved in the creative process."

If you’re thinking copying music onto such small device is no big deal, the punishment is.

If convicted, the owner of this music store could spend up to seven years in prison. His employee, who is accused of selling the card to the undercover investigator, could spend four years behind bars, if convicted.