DirecTV said it is suing the owner of a small cable company in Michigan, alleging the man illegally rebroadcast DirecTV signals (reported to be ESPN and CNN) on his cable systems.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, alleges John Metzler, the owner and operator of Phoenix Communications and Pine River Cable, set up fraudulent accounts in three communities – Baldwin, Beaver Island and Brutus – using fictitious properties, including a non-existent trailer park and an apartment complex. Pine River Cable used the accounts to resell and rebroadcast DirecTV programming to commercial and residential subscribers.

DirecTV said it has cut off the programming in question to subscribers of services being offered through Metzler’s operations. They are instead getting static screens with information on how to subscribe to “legal programming services,” presumably including DirecTV.

DirecTV said it has asked the court to enjoin and restrain the defendant's alleged fraudulent scheme. Under various state and federal laws, DirecTV may be entitled to damages of up to $100,000 for each violation, or more.

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