Monday, April 19, 2004

400 in Ky. accused of satellite TV thefts

The Associated Press

PADUCAH - More than 400 Kentuckians are among about 100,000 nationwide who have been accused of buying devices to steal satellite television signals. Many deny they've done anything wrong, but have settled lawsuits anyway.

DirecTV says it has filed more than 24,000 lawsuits nationwide, based on seized credit card information and records from companies charged with making and selling devices that encode cards used in satellite boxes so users can gain access to channels at no charge.

Karen Lastinger, of Paducah, received a letter from DirecTV. It offered her an out-of-court settlement. Lastinger said she never used an illegal device and hasn't had satellite television in her home for several years.

Lastinger and about 20 people appeared in U.S. District Court last week to defend themselves, but didn't get a chance to tell that to a judge.

Judge Joseph McKinley informed them that they had to file an answer to DirecTV's allegations in 20 days.

"I may have ordered something for somebody else, but I never used it. I have no idea what it is or what it does, " she said.

Later, her husband, Marty Lastinger, said that his wife decided to settle.

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