R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"), and Thomas S. Winkowski, Director, Field Operations, Miami Field Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, announced that defendant, Kurt Silvano Wakefield, pled guilty today to two counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods, and in connection with those goods, knowingly using counterfeit trademarks, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2320(a). The maximum statutory sentence for each count is ten years’ imprisonment and up to a two million dollar fine. U.S. District Court Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks set sentencing for October 25, 2006.
According to facts presented in court, Wakefield imported 15,000 pairs of counterfeit Nike sneakers into the United States in September and October of 2005. Wakefield was going to distribute the counterfeit Nike sneakers to be sold throughout the Southeastern United States, depriving Nike of the proceeds of their registered brand trademarks. These shipments were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement.
United States Attorney Acosta stated, "The sale of counterfeit goods deprives trademark owners of their rightful property and in some cases, exposes unwary consumers to potentially serious physical harm from defective and unsafe products. We will enforce intellectual property right laws that protect not only trademark owners, but also the innocent consumer."
"The public needs to know that criminals who sell knock-off or counterfeit merchandise rob legitimate companies of billions of dollars each year, and the person who buys the merchandise contributes to the crime," said Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge of the ICE investigations in Miami. "ICE is committed to aggressively enforcing our nation's intellectual property rights laws by targeting criminal enterprises that profit from the honest hard work of others."
"The interception of counterfeit goods is an important piece of the CBP mission to protect our borders," stated Thomas S. Winkowski, CBP's Director of Field Operations for the Miami Field Office. "CBP officers are electronically targeting every container that enters the United States, first for any potential terrorist weapon or link to terrorist and then for threats to our way of life, including illegal drugs and counterfeit merchandise."
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the initial targeting and seizure of this merchandise by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Randy Katz.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov/.