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Feds want Nintendo Switch Team Xecuter hacker to serve five years and cough up US$4.5 million in landmark case

Feds demand harsh punishment for Team Xecuter member Gary Bowser for aiding Nintendo Switch video game piracy. (Image Source: Techworm.net)
Feds demand harsh punishment for Team Xecuter member Gary Bowser for aiding Nintendo Switch video game piracy. (Image Source: Techworm.net)
The U.S. government recommended a five-year prison sentence and US$4.5 million in damages against Team Xecuter's Gary Bowser citing that his actions of finding loopholes and making mods cost the video game industry and gamers dearly. Bowser's defense was cognizant of the offence but pleaded for a shorter 19-month stint. They argued that the feds only wanted to make an example of him since the others involved with Team Xecuter could escape charges.

Last week, the U.S. government recommended to a federal judge to sentence Gary Bowser, the "public face" of video game console hacking group Team Xecuter, to a five-year jail term and a US$4.5 million fine. As per court documents, the prosecution believes that Team Xecuter is a "criminal enterprise" and has "undermined the integrity of those systems (video game consoles) and video game users".

The activities of Team Xecuter are supposed to have cost companies such as Nintendo losses in excess of US$65 million. Federal lawyers are thus of the opinion that the five-year sentence to Gary Bowser is justified and reflects the seriousness of the punishment and promotes respect for the law. Prosecution also asked the court to monitor Bowser for three years after prison time. Bowser also faces a fine of US$4.5 million.

However, Bowser's defense lawyers feel that the feds are using him to "send a message" and that he is unjustly facing the "full brunt" of the trial when other team members are lavishly living abroad since they cannot be extradited to the U.S. Quoting the defense, the court documents say,

Gary Bowser is the least culpable and only apprehended defendant from this indictment. He is also likely to be the only person convicted and sentenced in this case. His fugitive co-defendants, Max Louarn and Yuanning Chen, reside in countries which may not extradite them for prosecution.”

Bowser's lawyers also said that their client only made about US$320,000 over seven years via Team Xecuter while still acknowledging that Nintendo did suffer great monetary loss. "A sentence of 19 months for the least culpable of the three charged defendants…is significant", was their argument. 

The final quantum of punishment is now up to the federal judge.

Popular hacking group Team Xecuter has been a target for game companies, particularly Nintendo, and their domains have already been seized by the Department of Homeland Security. Team Xecuter is known for making hardware and software mods that enable users to play pirated games on consoles such as the Nintendo Switch.

Back in 2018, Team Xecuter was working on selling a modchip for the Switch in response to another group, fail0verflow's, infamous Nvidia Tegra exploit. Team Xecuter had reportedly made millions by selling SX OS modchips that allowed Switch gamers to play pirated games.

In November 2021, Bowser pleaded guilty to two federal charges after having been extradited from the Dominican Republic in late 2020. Previously, Bowser agreed to pay a US$10 million fine against a separate Nintendo lawsuit.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2022 02 > Feds want Nintendo Switch Team Xecuter hacker to serve five years and cough up US$4.5 million in landmark case, defense argues US government indicting only to send a message
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2022-02- 7 (Update: 2022-02- 7)