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Dispatches from a Hollywood halfway house

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Jason Jones used to own ACME, the super-hip video game store on Melrose and La Brea that catered to celebrity clients ranging from Snoop Dogg to David Arquette. In 2005 he was pinched by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who raided his store wearing full body armor and brandishing shotguns because Jones was suspected of selling “modded” Microsoft Xboxes that played pirated games. Seriously.

Charged with felonies under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Jones faced up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines after pleading guilty to felony copyright crimes in May, 2006. Instead, he received six months of probation. His current home is The Vinewood, a Hollywood halfway house for federal cons about to transition back to civilian life. Jones, 35, sat down to chat about being the only video game gangsta among the bank robbers and real thugs.

How long have you been here?
I’m coming up on three months. I’ll be here for 16 more days. It’s a 90-day sentence total.

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But didn’t you have probation?
Yeah. It was six months house arrest, but I got caught smokin’ weed. I’ve got a weed license, but since it was a federal crime, they didn’t recognize it, and they commuted my sentence to here.

Photo of Jones' "modded" ankle tracker by J. Jones