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Dish tries to seize house from former TV pirates

The logo of pirate television service Nitro TV as it appeared before it was shut down.
The logo of pirate television service Nitro TV as it appeared before it was shut down. (Graphic by The Desk)

The former operators of an illegal television service are trying to defend their home from being seized by satellite broadcaster Dish Network.

The issue stems from a civil judgment awarded to Dish Network last year against the operators of Nitro TV, which was sued for stealing Dish Network’s signals and distributing them over the Internet without permission.

Four defendants named in the case — Alex Galindo, Anna Galindo, Martha Galindo, and Osvaldo Galindo — didn’t put up much of a fight during the year-long lawsuit, which claimed over 100,000 Nitro TV customers had illegal access to Dish Network programming. The lawsuit ended in June 2022 with a $100 million civil judgment in Dish Network’s favor.

As part of the judgment, Dish issued disclosure requests to four banks that had collected more than $9 million in fees from Nitro TV customers. Two banks told Dish that the accounts were empty, while a third said the account only held around $50 in cash. A fourth account was overdrawn.

Unable to recoup money from the deposit accounts, Dish decided to fight for a home located in a suburban Texas neighborhood associated with at least one of the plaintiffs. Dish submitted documents showing the house was at least partially funded by illicit Nitro TV subscriptions, and the court ordered the U.S. Marshal Service to foreclose on the property.

Now, one of the defendants are mounting a legal challenge to keep the home from being seized and sold. In a motion filed by an attorney representing Alex Galindo, the defendant argues that the court committed “a clear error or manifest injustice” when it awarded Dish custody of the property.

“The Texas Constitution provides special protections for the homestead separate and distinct from protections afforded other types of property,” the attorney argued in a motion filed in federal court, noting that the constitutional homestead protection is intended to keep people from losing their homes.

Dish argued that around 99 percent of the money used to purchase the home derived from Nitro TV subscription revenue, and said the use of illicit money makes the homestead law inapplicable here.

Dish also noted that the court previously issued a notice to the defendants warning that the home could be seized, and after waiting a month for a response that never came, the court ultimately found that the homestead protection law didn’t apply and that the property could be seized.

A lawyer representing Dish asked the court to dismiss the legal challenge now, saying it isn’t supported by any law in Texas, even the homestead protection rule.

“There are no grounds warranting the extraordinary remedy of reconsideration and, even if reconsidered, the court’s order allowing the sale of the [house] is supported by the undisputed facts and well-established Texas law,” the motion said.