Faces up to five years in prison, fine of up to $250K.

Movie pirate Randolph Hobson Guthrie pleaded guilty today (Jan. 4) in a Mississippi federal court to conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods.

Guthrie, a U.S. citizen, is the former leader of an international counterfeit movie network known for replicating and distributing thousands of counterfeit DVDs. In July 2004, officers from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and the Shanghai Public Security Bureau arrested Guthrie, along with five others, in Shanghai. Investigators seized more than 210,000 counterfeit DVDs.

Guthrie was brought to the United States three months later after serving part of a two year and six month prison sentence in China. He was immediately arrested and placed into federal custody upon his U.S. arrival.

As part of the plea agreement, Guthrie will forfeit $823,833 to the U.S. government. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Investigators estimate that Guthrie made over $1 million in profits during the course of his illegal enterprise.

“I applaud the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for their diligent effort to bring this ringleader of movie theft to justice and to ensure that the penalties for his crimes are properly assessed,” says Dan Glickman, chairman/CEO of the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

The investigation into Guthrie's activities, known as "Operation Spring," began in September 2003 as the first joint intellectual property criminal investigation between ICE agents and Chinese law enforcement officials.