DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Gregory King told authorities he made a living selling pirated music for seven years – but deputies say his reign ended Saturday at the center of a Lake Worth flea market.
After finding more than 1,000 pirated CDs in King's truck, deputies arrested the 41-year-old Delray Beach man on music piracy charges.
On Sept. 19, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office got a tip: vendors were selling pirated CDs at the Lake Worth Swap Shop, a drive-in movie theater and flea market at 3438 Lake Worth Rd.
According to an arrest report, the tip came from Eric Berger, an investigator with AAction Investigations. The agency often works with the Recording Industry Association of America to help dismantle music piracy operations across the country.
According to an Institute for Policy Innovation study, music piracy worldwide causes more than $12.5 billion dollars in losses to the U.S. economy, more than 70,000 lost jobs and $2 billion in lost wages among American workers.
Berger, who has assisted detectives in similar cases twice before, told the Sheriff's Office he had purchased pirated CDs at the Swap Shop in the last year.
His findings, he said, warranted a criminal investigation.
Berger provided detectives pictures of the vendors selling the pirated CDs and a description of how the CDs look – kept in yellow sleeves in bins.
The detective began work at the theater on Sept. 23.
He walked to the center of the swap shop, in front of the food stands. There, he watched from a distance and took pictures of what he saw:
Under a tent were tables and plastic bins containing CDs in yellow sleeves. Several people bought the CDs from a man, later identified as King, and woman working behind the tables.
Sitting on the tables were catalogs of music, stereo equipment, and computer towers typically used to copy several CDs at once.
The detective walked up to the tent and posed as a customer. He flipped through one of the music catalogs and browsed through hundreds of artists and record labels listed in alphabetical order.
He asked the man behind the table how much a CD would cost.
"Five dollars," he said.
He looked through the book again and asked King to get him a CD by "DJ Khaled."
King told the woman working to get the CD. She pulled a yellow sleeve from a plastic bin.
The detective paid King $5.
King later loaded the crates of CDs, tables, equipment and displays into his truck – and the detective wrote down the license plate number.
On Saturday, detectives caught up with King and searched his truck, finding more than 1,000 CDs in 36 bins.
"King admitted to selling the CD music for seven years at the Swap Shop," the detective wrote in the report. "It was his only source of income."
King, who has been arrested twice before for traffic offenses, posted $3,000 bond and left jail Saturday night.