News and Press Releases

SMUGGLERS SENTENCED IN COUNTERFEIT SMITH & WESSON MEDALLION CASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2010

Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Eddie McKissick, Resident Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), announced that Alfred M. Raubitschek, 59, of San Mateo, California and Itabuna, Brazil, and William A. Harvey, 69, of Wilson, North Carolina, have been sentenced in federal District Court in Miami, in connection with activities related to the use of a counterfeit Smith & Wesson Corp. registered trademark on sets of pistol grips smuggled into the United States from Brazil, in violation of Title 18, United States Code Sections 2320(a)(1), and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.

Raubitschek was sentenced today before the Honorable Marcia Cooke, United States District Court Judge, to time served of six weeks of incarceration, seven months of electronically monitored home confinement, three years of supervised release, and a criminal fine of $3,000. Harvey, who had cooperated in the government’s case, had previously been sentenced on February 11, 2010 to a period of three years’ probation and a fine of $5,000. Their convictions arose from an anti-smuggling investigation, called Operation Getta Grip.

According to the Indictment, Court records, and statements at the sentencing hearing, the two defendants were involved in the illegal importation of more than 260 sets of custom made pistol grips, designed for Smith & Wesson firearms. The grips, which the government maintained were fabricated from protected species of Brazilian rosewood, were pre-drilled and mounted with metallic medallions intended to mimic the genuine Smith & Wesson logo on legitimately produced product. The Smith & Wesson logo is protected on the on the principal register in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and that “mark” is in current use by Smith & Wesson. Trademark holders are protected from the use of their registered marks from replicas or products that seek to mimic the legitimate items and the use of which are likely to cause confusion, cause mistakes, and deceive.

The defendants introduced the gun grips into the U.S. by falsely describing them on invoices and other documents as “rough cutting board samples.” They failed to provide required notices to the FWS to import protected rosewood, and had also failed to secure required export permits from the Governmental of Brazil. Rosewood, or Dalbergia nigra, is a highly prized Brazilian hardwood sometimes used to make high-end musical instruments and equipment.

The United States and Brazil are parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Under CITES, species are protected according to a classification system known as “appendices.” Species listed in Appendix I of CITES, such as Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra), are those threatened with extinction and for which trade must be subjected to particularly strict regulation and only authorized in exceptional circumstances. Imports of Appendix I specimens cannot take place if they are to be used for primarily commercial purposes. The federal Endangered Species Act, Title 16, United States Code, Section 1538(c) makes it unlawful to engage in trade contrary to CITES.

Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Fish & Wildlife Service, which led to a successful conclusion in this matter. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.

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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 http://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.

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