Knowles says accused ''Clones'' pirate is the wrong guy. The Ain't It Cool guru says that the former Lucasfilm employee arrested last week for swiping an advance copy of ''Attack of the Clones'' is not the one who leaked him a copy for his early review

By Gary Susman
October 16, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
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  • Movie
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Nearly as puzzling and convoluted as the plot of ”Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” is the mystery of who leaked an advance copy of the film to Ain’t It Cool News’ Harry Knowles, who posted an advance review of the movie on the website in March, two months before it opened. Lucasfilm, which guarded advance materials from the film like nuclear secrets, believes it has found the culprit. After an internal investigation, the company fingered former employee Shea O’Brien Foley, and last Tuesday, Los Angeles Police arrested him on 13 felony counts for allegedly pilfering ”Clones” material worth an estimated $450,000, the Marin Independent Journal reports. However, both Foley and Knowles say that Foley is not the one who leaked Knowles the bootlegged film.

Even if Foley didn’t leak the movie to Knowles, he apparently admitted swiping other valuable ”Star Wars” items while he was working as a production assistant at Lucasfilm, according to the Journal’s account of the arrest warrant. The document said Lucasfilm had suspected him because of postings by someone named ”Shay” in ”Star Wars” Internet chat rooms. According to the warrant, a company search of Foley’s work laptop and police searches of his home and his mother’s home turned up purloined items, including 19 sound effects CD-ROMs, 2,000 digital images, hundreds of clips from the unfinished ”Episode II,” and about 113 storyboard sketches that featured handwritten notes by George Lucas. Lucasfilm fired Foley in April after he allegedly told them he had taken the material as personal souvenirs. The 30-year-old went to work for NBC’s facilities department in Burbank, where he was arrested last week. He posted $200,000 bail and was released, but he could be back behind bars for a stretch of seven years and four months if convicted.

Still, the Journal reports, Foley denied providing Knowles with a bootleg of the nearly complete movie in March, the incident that prompted the Lucasfilm probe in the first place. Police told MSNBC.com that Knowles and Ain’t It Cool are not implicated in the case. Asked about Foley, Knowles told MSNBC, ”I’ve never heard of this guy.” He still won’t say how he came to view the ”Clones” copy, but he told MSNBC that Foley ”is not the one who showed me the movie.”

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