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AUSA VICKIE E. LEDUC at 410-209-4885
APRIL 10, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FAMILY MEMBERS SENTENCED FOR IMPORTING AND DISTRIBUTING COUNTERFEIT NASCAR AND LORD OF THE RINGS MERCHANDISE AND SWITCHBLADES KNIVES
Baltimore, Maryland - Muhammed Aslam, age 58, and his sons Farhan Aslam, age 32 and Zeeshawn Aslam, age 28, all of Ellicott City, Maryland, were sentenced to 40 months imprisonment today for smuggling switchblade knives, knives and boxed knife sets with counterfeit NASCAR and NASCAR related trademarks; and knives and swords violating United Cutlery and Lord of the Rings copyrights announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. In addition, the defendants were required to pay $759,161.16, which was the forfeiture amount ordered by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein stated, “The substantial sentence of imprisonment imposed in this case demonstrates that the United States will prosecute and punish those who violate federal trademark and copyright laws, which are essential to protect U.S. markets from counterfeit goods.”
The defendants’ conduct, which they admitted pursuant to their guilty pleas in November 2005, involved repeated violations of the law, dating back to October 1995. In the statement of facts provided to the court as part of their plea agreements, the defendants admitted that they participated in a conspiracy to import and distribute more than $750,000 of prohibited merchandise. They also admitted that state and federal authorities had repeatedly investigated the family members between 1995 and 2005, resulting in criminal charges, the execution of multiple search warrants, and repeated seizures of contraband.
Pursuant to the conspiracy, the defendants imported counterfeit knives and swords from foreign countries, namely Pakistan, Taiwan and China. In order to further the conspiracy, the defendants asked foreign suppliers to hide contraband to avoid the seizure, payment of duty, and discovery of these imported products by U.S. authorities. The defendants also sent money, via wire transfers, to China and elsewhere, to pay for the switchblade knives, counterfeit knives and swords, and counterfeit NASCAR merchandise.
According to the stipulated facts, when the importation of switchblade knives became difficult, the defendants separately imported switchblade knives and springs used for the conversion of knives into fully automatic switchblade knives. After these items had been imported, the defendants caused employees of the Aslam’s company, NFZ, Inc., to insert the springs and then the defendants resold the newly assembled fully automatic switchblades. The decision to separately import was motivated, in part, by a desire to avoid the seizure and discovery of these imported products by U.S. authorities.
On May 27, 2004, federal agents executed federal search warrants at NFZ warehouses and seized (I) more than 20,000 switchblades and knives easily converted into switchblades; (ii) a significant amount of NASCAR-related counterfeit knives and knife sets; and (iii) approximately ten (10) Lord of the Rings counterfeit swords.
Also on May 27, 2004, Muhammed and Farhan Aslam lied to federal agents about NFZ’s use of a third warehouse in an attempt to conceal their contraband. All of the defendants then made plans to move certain contraband from the third NFZ warehouse to a storage facility. Farhan and Zeeshan Aslam actually moved the merchandise while federal agents were seeking a federal search warrant for the third warehouse.
In November 2004, the defendants’ course of illegal conduct culminated in defendant Farhan Aslam’s request that a witness lie to federal prosecutors and a federal grand jury in connection with the ongoing federal investigation.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the investigative work performed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Baltimore County Police Department, and the United States Attorney’s Office. Mr. Rosenstein also thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harry M. Gruber and Joyce K. McDonald, who are prosecuting this case.
This page last modifiedApril 13, 2006