Queens college student faces felony charges for selling unauthorized cable boxes
An entrepreneurially inclined computer science student pleaded not-guilty Tuesday night to 41 felony charges involving the alleged sale of unauthorized modems on Craigslist that would provide purchasers free Internet access.
Andres Saldarriaga, 22, of Long Island City, allegedly posted a Craigslist ad that ran between March 2011 and his Monday arrest offering modems compatible with Time Warner Cable, Comcast, RCN, and Optimum Online Internet service. An investigator working for Time Warner responded in March 2011, purchasing a modem for $150. A year later, he did so again, but the price had gone up to $175. Those sales were followed by the purchase of a cloned modem in May and again on Monday by a detective in the Queens District Attorney's Detective Bureau for a total of $400.
Seven more devices were found in Saldarriaga's car. A search of his home yielded 19 more modems, a laptop computer and other items allegedly involved with the fabrication of the fee-free boxes, according to the Queens DA.
Saldarriaga was released on supervised probation pending his next court appearance on Sept. 25.
"He is a full-time college student with no criminal record," said Saldarriaga's attorney, James E. Toner of Mineola. Toner said Saldarriaga is "a very humble kid" who lives with his brothers and his mother, who is "a very hard working lady."
The modems Saldarriaga allegedly sold apparently allowed users to obtain free Internet services, but not television channels, said a source familiar with the case.
He could face two to seven years in prison, should he be convicted.