CAMDEN - A Maple Shade man was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison today for selling counterfeit Rolex watches through Internet sites, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.
U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler also ordered Gary Berger, 45, to pay $79,549 in restitution and to serve three years of supervised release upon the completion of his prison sentence.
On Jan. 26, 2005, Berger pleaded guilty before Judge Kugler to an Information charging one-count of mail fraud. At his plea hearing, Berger admitted that between December 2002 and September 2003, he used the Internet to advertise Rolex watches and watch boxes for sale. Berger also admitted he represented in Internet advertisements and in subsequent telephone conversations with potential buyers that the watches and boxes were genuine items manufactured by Rolex, when in fact he knew they were fake.
Berger admitted that he set prices equal with the value of genuine Rolex watches and boxes and instructed buyers to send checks or money orders to him. Berger admitted that during the time period covered in the Information, he received checks or money orders from more than 10 buyers of purportedly genuine Rolex watches and boxes and that he then mailed fake Rolex watches and boxes to the buyers. Berger admitted the loss to the buyers exceeded $70,000.
In determining an actual sentence, Judge Kugler consulted the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges that take into account the severity and characteristics of the offense, the defendant's criminal history, if any, and other factors. The judge, however, was not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
Parole has been abolished in the federal system. Defendants who are given custodial terms must serve nearly all that time.
Christie credited Postal Inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Thomas C. Van de Merlen, Inspector in Charge, with bringing the case.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Skahill and Ronald Chillemi of the U.S. Attorney's Office Criminal Division in Camden.