The Manuscript Thief

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AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
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May 19, 2014
London UK
I have some pangs of sympathy for this guy… tho’ not too much. 20 years inside? I wonder how many millennia ChatGPT will be sentenced to for purloining authors’ original work… :)

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From Publishers’ Lunch…

Manuscript thief Filippo Bernardini and his attorney Jennifer Brown both submitted letters in advance of his Federal Court sentencing on April 5, trying to explain Bernardini's motivation for the thefts. Bernardini writes that stealing manuscripts was an "obsession, a compulsive behavior" related to wanting to work in publishing. His attorney suggests, "His offense can be seen as a form of 'extreme collecting'"…. He had served as an intern at Andrew Nurnberg Associates in London, but was unable to immediately find a job in the industry afterward. Bernardini faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, plus fines for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

"I could not find a job in the industry but I really missed that professional environment," he writes. "I still wanted to believe I was part of the industry, even though the industry did not seem to want me."

He continues, "Writing this now, I feel my fingers shaking as I type this at the thought of how egregious, stupid and wrong my actions were. I had a burning desire to feel like I was still one of these publishing professionals and read these new books. A part of me wanted to believe that I was still one of them and I started cosplaying what people in publishing were doing as editors or literary agents." He adds that he "never leaked these manuscripts" and wanted to "enjoy the books in my own space, with my own reading pace, without my thoughts being influenced by what other people around me think about them."

His attorney reiterates in her own letter that Bernardini only "wanted to read books before they were published." Bernadini has been under house arrest in NYC with a curfew for about a year. Brown is asking for "a sentence of time-served with an order of restitution in the amount of $88,000." She writes, "Such a sentence would allow Mr. Bernardini to return immediately to the United Kingdom, find gainful employment, and resume working so that he may promptly pay full restitution."

She adds, "Sending a man to prison over this would be a way to take a victimless crime and create a victim in the person of the accused."
 
I think there's an element of 'shooting the messenger' here.
If the system hadn't been so poorly supervised, or loosely run – which is down to the agents and publishers who built it, and live by it – he wouldn't have been able to steal these manuscripts. And for so long...

I believe he needs help, not a prison term.
 
I think there's an element of 'shooting the messenger' here.
If the system hadn't been so poorly supervised, or loosely run – which is down to the agents and publishers who built it, and live by it – he wouldn't have been able to steal these manuscripts. And for so long...

I believe he needs help, not a prison term.
Just what I was going to say: He doesn't need prison. He needs help (of the psychiatric kind as opposed to giving him a job in the industry. It's still a crime, and crime mustn't pay).
 
And the result is:

Manuscript thief Filippo Bernardini, ex-Simon & Schuster, has avoided a prison term by pleading guilty to one charge of wire fraud, taken by federal prosecutors in Manhattan to cover his years of pre-publication manuscript theft. He admitted to stealing more than 1,000 unpublished manuscripts since “at least 2016”.

The maximum possible sentence for the charge was theoretically 20 years in prison; prosecutors had asked for at least one year behind bars. However, the judge on March 23 sentenced him to ‘time served’, since he was arrested by the FBI in January 2022. His sentence includes three years of supervised release. The judge also ordered him to be deported to the UK or Italy.

He had previously agreed to pay Penguin Random House $88,000 (£72,700) in ‘restitution’ for legal and expert fees the company paid as a consequence of the case.
 
And the result is:

Manuscript thief Filippo Bernardini, ex-Simon & Schuster, has avoided a prison term by pleading guilty to one charge of wire fraud, taken by federal prosecutors in Manhattan to cover his years of pre-publication manuscript theft. He admitted to stealing more than 1,000 unpublished manuscripts since “at least 2016”.

The maximum possible sentence for the charge was theoretically 20 years in prison; prosecutors had asked for at least one year behind bars. However, the judge on March 23 sentenced him to ‘time served’, since he was arrested by the FBI in January 2022. His sentence includes three years of supervised release. The judge also ordered him to be deported to the UK or Italy.

He had previously agreed to pay Penguin Random House $88,000 (£72,700) in ‘restitution’ for legal and expert fees the company paid as a consequence of the case.
Hmm. Should have done time.
 
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