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Real-life Bowser pleads guilty to Nintendo piracy charges and now faces a $4.5 million fine

Nintendo crimes
(Image credit: Nintendo)

A man named Gary Bowser has pleaded guilty to piracy charges filed by Nintendo which could see him spend ten years in prison.

Bowser, who was arrested in 2020, was a member of hacking group Team-Xecuter. In a plea agreement obtained by Torrentfreak, he plead guilty to "conspiracy to circumvent technological measures and to traffic in circumvention devices," and "trafficking in circumvention." Each of those crimes carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Bowser, originally from Canada, was arrested in the Dominican Republic, and then extradited to the US, where he faces 11 felony counts, including money laundering. Other members of Team-Xecuter facing charges have either not been extradited to the US yet, or have yet to be found by police.

The US government claims that the group made "at least tens of millions of dollars" from selling emulation devices allowing buyers to play pirated ROMs of Nintendo games. It also claimed that any attempt by the group to position itself as video game history enthusiasts was merely a "cloak" for "illegal activity." Having entered his plea, Bowser has been ordered to pay Nintendo $4.5 million in damages, and also faces another lawsuit filed by the company earlier this year.

Bowser, who shares a surname with Nintendo president Doug Bowser and the big green lizard who Mario regularly spars with, isn't the first person to feel the company's legal force in recent years. Nintendo has been going after emulators and ROM sites increasingly aggressively, forcing many to shut down in the face of significant fees.

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Ali Jones

I'm GamesRadar's deputy news editor, working with Ben T across our gaming news articles. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.