WASHINGTON óA national distributor of more than $7 million in counterfeit clothing has been sentenced to 57 months in prison, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg of the Eastern District of Virginia, and Special Agent in Charge Charles Cunningham of the FBIís Richmond Division, announced today.
Abbas Chouman, 43, of Astoria, N.Y., was sentenced on one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson of the Eastern District of Virginia. Judge Hudson also ordered Chouman to forfeit $7 million. Chouman pleaded guilty to conspiracy on July 3, 2007, and has remained in federal custody since his arrest in March 2007.
Chouman operated a wholesale clothing business in New York City that sold more than $7 million in counterfeit clothing. The business, known by various names including: Gizmo Wear Inc., Tea Shirt Inc., T Shirt International Inc., and Jump Wear, offered clothing bearing counterfeit marks at a substantial discount from prices charged for legitimate clothing. Buyers could purchase counterfeit clothing in person at the New York store or by telephone, receiving shipment by UPS. Buyers throughout the United States, including in the Eastern District of Virginia, paid cash on delivery (COD) for shipped clothing with money orders they remitted to UPS. UPS, in turn, regularly deposited the proceeds of clothing sales in a bank account held under the Gizmo Wear Inc. name. Between December 1, 2004, and September 1, 2006, UPS deposited nearly $19 million in COD payments in the Gizmo Wear Inc. account.
Chouman is the fifth defendant sentenced to prison out of seven convictions stemming from this multi-agency, multi-state federal enforcement operation targeting traffickers in counterfeit and pirated goods. The initial phase of the operation culminated on March 7, 2007, when federal and state agents executed search warrants and made arrests in four states.
On August 2, 2007, Ishoc Uthman Ibn-Abdus Salaam, 26, of Pamplin, Va., was sentenced to 18 months in prison after a federal jury in Richmond, Va., found Salaam guilty of attempted conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods.
In September 2007, Ismail Haqq, 33, of Meherrin, Va.; Cherubin Pierre, 32, of Highland Springs, Va.; and Eric Harmon, 40, of Richmond, were sentenced to eight, 24, and 27 months in prison, respectively, for conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. The case arose out of Harmonís ownership and operation of a retail store in Richmond, where he and others illegally reproduced and sold thousands of copyright-infringing CDs and DVDs.
On August 16, 2007, Ronald Roundtree, 51, of Lynchburg, Va., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic in $70,000 to $120,000 worth of counterfeit trademarked clothing and shoes. Roundtree is scheduled to be sentenced in Richmond on November 14, 2007.
On July 5, 2007, Terri Singleton, 34, of Beckley, W.V., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods with Roundtree. Singleton was sentenced today to two years of probation.
The investigation was conducted by a multi-agency task force that included the Richmond office of the FBI, Virginia State Police, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Marshals Service, Henrico County Police Department, Chesterfield County Police Department, and Richmond Police Department.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John S. Davis of the Eastern District of Virginia, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney and Assistant Virginia Attorney General Matthew C. Ackley, and Senior Counsel Scott L. Garland of the Criminal Divisionís Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.