Bootleg and the beast: Sacramento man convicted of counterfeiting Disney films

Federal agents cracked down on scheme involving China

This is an extended version of a story that appears in the January 11, 2018, issue.

Xavier Johnson just pleaded guilty to disrupting commerce inside the Magic Kingdom, and now he’s about to see a whole new world in federal prison.

According to prosecutors, between 2008 and 2011 Johnson and his co-conspirators ran an elaborate DVD counterfeiting operation out of a house in Elk Grove, taking pirated videos from China and selling them through a string of sham web domains that Johnson set up, including, and But it was a circle of lies.

“Contrary to representations by the defendants, the DVDs shipped to customers were not legitimate Disney movies,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote in its indictment of Johnson. “To avoid detection, the defendants recruited and paid third parties in the Eastern District to receive the DVDs [from China].”

Evidence presented in court indicates Johnson’s activities netted tens of thousands of dollars. This counterfeiting house might have seemed like the happiest place on earth, but the FBI decided the operation had to be frozen. A joint investigation with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service brought an end to Johnson peddling his bunk merch to poor unfortunate souls.

Johnson pleaded guilty to criminal trademark infringement. In December, he was sentenced to two years and six months in prison. His co-conspirator, Kristen Caldwell of Sacramento, was ordered to spend six months on home confinement.

According to a 2015 study by Michigan State University, some 80 percent of trademark infringement directed at US companies involves China.