Digital Bootlegging Operation Found in W.Va. Capitol Building

Tucked away in the basement of West Virginia's gold-domed Capitol, state officials say, an office was secretly transformed into a taxpayer-funded studio that may have been used to pirate DVD videos and music CDs.

Administration Secretary Robert Ferguson said his staff stumbled across the office after finding evidence that government purchase cards were used to buy $88,000 worth of computers and related equipment over three years.

The office contained hundreds of blank DVDs, CDs and jacket covers, as well as numerous recorders for both mediums and more than one computer, according to a Jan. 5 memo written by state Chief Technology Officer Kyle Schafer.

The memo was obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act.

"Specifically, one hard drive contained approximately 40 full-length motion videos," Schafer wrote. "Two other hard drives contained over 3,500 MP3 music files."

One computer had hacking software commonly used to crack header codes on copyrighted materials, Schafer said.

Ferguson said the FBI is investigating and has seized some of the hardware.

He cited personnel regulations in declining to identify who made the purchases or whose office contained the makeshift audio-video studio, located off a corridor near a boiler room.

"We will hold accountable those people who have abused the letter and the spirit of the law," Ferguson said.