Culture

The Feds Are Investigating An Alleged Capitol Hill Bootlegging Operation Involving ‘The West Wing’ DVDs


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Despite winning the presidency, Donald Trump hasn’t entirely let go of his repeated calls to prosecute Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for her alleged misuse of a private email server. Whether or not the currently transitioning Tweeter-in-Chief will address Washington, D.C.’s latest technological scandal, however, remains to be seen. For if the president-elect truly wants to “drain the swamp” as promised, then he’ll need to figure out who’s at the bottom of a supposed DVD bootlegging operation involving burned copies of The West Wing, mislabeled shipments from Hong Kong, and federal immigration officials.

NBC Washington investigative reporter Scott MacFarlane previewed his scoop on Twitter Wednesday morning, saying the authorities were “investigating [a] big Capitol Hill based bootlegging operation trading burned copies of The West Wing.”

The news, which MacFarlane stressed was not a joke, also named the popular HBO series The Sopranos and the surprisingly-still-on-the-air The Big Bang Theory as two other titles mentioned in the investigation. Additional details suggested the suspected Capitol Hill-based bootlegger was selling pirated West Wing seasons online.


Before MacFarlane’s story went live, he tweeted an excerpt from documentation obtained from the investigation. Turns out the “Case of the Capitol Hill Bootlegger” involved a rather sneaky operation that shipped “Teaching Materials” from Hong Kong to the U.S. Unless the recipient (and their customers) were trying to brush up on modern American politics in popular culture, however, said education was actually “14 sets of counterfeit DVDs of The West Wing Complete Series” valued at up to $2,800.

Once MacFarlane’s story went live, the additional details he uncovered revealed what appeared to be a one-man operation based in the area that’s soon to become Trump’s home-away-from-Trump-Tower. Among other things, the initial raids that took place in February 2012 discovered a literal treasure trove of counterfeit DVDs that, in addition to the above titles, included The Twilight Zone:

A suspect in the operation lives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. According to court filings, the man lives a “modest lifestyle” in a low-rent home. Federal agents said they found 1,965 DVDs at the man’s home; at least 300 of which were determined to be counterfeit.

Investigators determined that the illegal shipments from Hong Kong took place in 2011 and 2012. However, the court records reviewed by MacFarlane didn’t say whether or not any additional shipments were sent or received after the 2012 raid.


Needless to say, the reporter’s initial tweet instigated an endless array of jokes on Twitter.

Even Toby himself, actor Richard Schiff, contributed to the madness with a mixed admission of confusion and delight.

But hey, at least West Wing fans weren’t blaming Schiff like they were Joshua Malina for the bootlegging operation’s existence. (Sorry Josh.)

(Via NBC Washington)

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