Randolph Man Charged with Defrauding DreamWorks by Falsely Claiming He Created Kung Fu Panda
BOSTON—A Randolph man was indicted on wire fraud and perjury charges in connection with his scheme to defraud DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc., by falsely claiming that the company stole the characters and story for its animated movie, Kung Fu Panda.
Jayme Gordon, 51, was charged in an indictment unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Boston with four counts of wire fraud and three counts of perjury. He is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Judith D. Dein at 1:30 p.m. today.
“Our intellectual property laws are designed to protect creative artists, not defraud them,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “The misuse of civil litigation as part of a fraud scheme, and lying under oath, as alleged in this case, warp our federal judicial system and must be addressed with appropriate criminal sanctions.”
“As alleged, Mr. Gordon went to great lengths to orchestrate and maintain this fraudulent scheme, trying to take credit for ideas he did not come up with nor work he simply did not do,” said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division. “This case demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to root out individuals who try to steal ideas and information from hard-working American companies.”
According to the indictment, Gordon filed the lawsuit as part of a fraud scheme designed to obtain a multi-million-dollar settlement from DreamWorks. To further his fraud and persuade DreamWorks to agree to a settlement, Gordon fabricated and backdated drawings of characters similar to those in Kung Fu Panda, lied repeatedly during his deposition, and destroyed computer evidence that he was required to produce in civil discovery.
The indictment alleges that beyond the superficial similarities, the panda characters (pictured below) and story that Gordon created during the 1990s has very little in common with DreamWorks’ movie, Kung Fu Panda.
|Gordon’s Characters||DreamWorks’ Po and Master Shifu|
The indictment alleges that, in early 2008, several months before the movie’s June 2008 release, Gordon saw a trailer for Kung Fu Panda. After seeing that trailer, Gordon revised his “Panda Power” drawings and story, which he renamed “Kung Fu Panda Power.” He made these revisions as part of his scheme, so that his work would appear to be more similar to the DreamWorks pandas he had seen in the trailer. In February 2011, Gordon filed a copyright infringement suit against DreamWorks in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, and later that year, he proposed that DreamWorks agree to settle the suit by paying him $12 million. DreamWorks rejected that proposal, and the litigation continued for another two years.
During the course of the litigation, it is alleged that Gordon intentionally deleted relevant evidence on his computer that he was required to produce in discovery and lied during his civil deposition. Furthermore, Gordon fabricated and backdated sketches that served as support for his suit. The full nature of Gordon’s scheme came to light when DreamWorks discovered that Gordon had traced some of his panda drawings from a Disney Lion King coloring book (shown below).
|1996 Disney Coloring Book||Gordon’s 2000 Registration|
The indictment also alleges that Gordon’s other sketches, which were dated 1993 or 1994, were copied from this coloring book, which was not published until 1996, therefore demonstrating that Gordon drew these sketches after 1996 and backdated them. After DreamWorks discovered the tracing from the coloring book, Gordon agreed to dismiss his suit. By this point, however, DreamWorks had spent more than two years defending the fraudulent suit, at a cost of approximately $3 million.
The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and restitution. The charge of perjury provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz and FBI SAC Shaw made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Bookbinder and Amy Harman Burkart of Ortiz’s Cybercrime Unit. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI would like to thank DreamWorks for its assistance during the investigation of this case.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.