Minnesota Attorney Faces Federal Fraud Charges
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Two attorneys face federal fraud charges after authorities say they used copyright lawsuits to extort money from hundreds who allegedly downloaded porn.
Paul Hansmeier, of Woodbury, and John Steele, an Illinois attorney, were both arrested Friday. Federal prosecutors say the pair purchased copyrights to pornographic movies, then sued people who allegedly downloaded the movies — collecting about $6 million in settlements from 2011 through 2014.
U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said the men's conduct was outrageous, and cast doubt on the integrity of the legal profession.
Neither man have attorneys officially listed in the court docket.
Hansmeier was the subject of earlier news reports concerning hundreds of lawsuits filed against small businesses in Minnesota over alleged violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.