NY website owner accused of threatening hundreds
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
NEW YORK (AP) — An eyewear website operator left dozens and possibly hundreds of customers fearing for their lives as he bullied them into accepting his counterfeit and inferior products and encouraged them to complain online to boost his Internet ranking and drive more customers his way, a prosecutor said as she argued against bail Monday.
Vitaly Borker, 34, of Brooklyn was ordered held without bail after Assistant U.S. Attorney E. Danya Perry described him as the messenger for “absolutely unspeakable and bone-chilling” threats that frightened hundreds of customers around the world, leaving many of them in fear of their lives.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael H. Dolinger agreed there was a sufficient showing that the operator of DecorMyEyes.com was a danger to the community.
He said “someone who would engage in this pattern of behavior is potentially a very explosive person.”
A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan accused Borker of threatening customers after he cheated them out of the luxury eyeglasses they were expecting by instead delivering counterfeit and inferior quality goods from the website he has operated since at least 2007.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Borker was accused of cheating his customers and then when they complained, he “tried to intimidate them with obscenity and threats of serious violence.” Well over 200 complaints against him had been filed with the Federal Trade Commission, prosecutors said.
Perry said in one instance Borker made threats to the life of a 9-month-pregnant woman and her child. She said he generally subjected people who complained about his shoddy products to a campaign of obscene and intimidating conduct, including telling them he knew where they lived and he would expose them and their families to horrific violence.
Ironically, the prosecutor said, complaints registered online against Borker had the effect of boosting his online profile and making it more likely others would find and use his website.
“In his distorted world view, it would increase his gains,” she said.
As Broker was brought into court for an initial appearance before a judge, his wife cried loudly from a back row of the small courtroom.
Borker’s court appointed lawyer, Bruce Kaye, said he could understand why the court might be troubled by the allegations about threats but he added: “No one has been subjected to any physical harm. ... To say he’s a danger to the community is an unfair assessment.”
Kaye said his client was married with a young son and had no criminal record.
So far, Borker is charged with cyberstalking, making interstate threats, mail fraud and wire fraud. The charges carry a potential penalty of up to 50 years in prison.
Perry said Borker could face additional charges as federal agents study what they found in a search of his home.
The prosecutor said investigators found “disturbing” images and videos of prepubescent children in Borker’s home, along with five handguns, at least one which appeared to be an automatic weapon.
Kaye said the handguns were actually “prop guns” like those seen in Hollywood movies.