WARREN - Bob Hope was on the ''Road to Warren'' Tuesday when he testified as a trademark counterfeiting expert for the Motion Picture Association of America.
This particular Bob Hope, though, happens to be the great-nephew of arguably the best-known comedian and entertainer of all time. Although the trademark Hope ski-slope nose isn't as pronounced as that of his great-uncle.
The Westlake resident and former Ohio Highway Patrol trooper became a loss prevention professional and licensed private investigator. He now works as an anti-piracy field investigator for the MPAA, covering all of Ohio.
Bob Hope of Westlake, a great-nephew of the entertainer Bob Hope, and a field investigator in the motion picture industry, testifies Tuesday in a bootlegged DVD case in Judge Peter Kontos’ courtroom.
He's also worked undercover for professional sports leagues, infiltrating the bootleg team logo sports apparel market.
But Tuesday it was all about the knockoff DVDs that Hope says account for a $3 billion per year loss worldwide to Hollywood film-makers and distributors.
''With the computer and Internet technology nowadays, there's no road bump ahead to slow this down, either,'' said Hope, whose grandfather was the famed comedian's younger brother.
''My grandfather also worked as a real estate broker and represented his brother who once had the distinction of paying the largest amount of real estate taxes in Los Angles County,'' Hope said.
He said it was only by accident that he came to be named after the Hollywood star.
''His real name was Leslie Towns Hope. He only took on the stage name of Bob Hope because he didn't like the reference to Les Hope,'' Hope said before taking the stand.
Hope was in Warren to testify in the case of Valerie Florence Edwards, 58, of Cleveland. Edwards was a passenger in a car stopped Feb. 12, 2010, in Braceville by Highway Patrol Sgt. Mike Harmon. The trooper said the driver had aroused his suspicion by holding his hand beside his face as if he didn't want to be recognized.
Harmon testified he stopped the car, finding the male driver had no license and only a mass transit ID. He called in Portage County Deputy Ralph Hayes and his trained K9, who found heroin that the driver said was his.
Edwards admitted to owning 65 counterfeit movies in the form of DVDs that Hope and the trooper said clearly looked fake, with poor illustrations on flimsy jackets and no art or trademarks on the discs themselves.
''They said they were coming from New York City and headed back to Cleveland and that she intended to donate the DVDs to a charity,'' the trooper said.
Assistant county prosecutor Michael Burnett told a jury in the courtroom of Judge Peter Kontos that the counterfeit discs were intended to be resold for more than $500, making the charge against Edwards a fifth-degree felony.
But defense attorney Al Matavich argued after the prosecution rested that the dollar amount of the confiscated DVDs was not clear. Kontos agreed, reducing the charge that the jury will consider to a first-degree misdemeanor. Matavich also argues that his client had no way of knowing that the discs she bought were bootlegs, or at least that element of the charge wasn't proven.
Matavich said he will call no witnesses today, and the jury will hear closing arguments before deliberating.
Meanwhile, Hope was headed back to Cleveland, where he last spoke to his great-uncle in 1993.