Spring Man Convicted of Trafficking in Counterfeit CHI Products
|July 19, 2012|
HOUSTON - Eric White, 52, of Spring, Texas, has entered a plea of guilty to conspiring to traffic in counterfeit CHI hair care products, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. White, an Internet seller of hair care products, admitted he imported and resold counterfeit CHI hair irons beginning in April 2010 through sometime in September 2010.
According to the plea agreement filed today, Farouk Systems is a Houston-based company that manufactures and sells a unique line of CHI curling irons and other hair care products. All of these products are distributed only through authorized Farouk distributors. White, using the company name Royal Cosmo, was contacted in April 2010 by counsel for Farouk Systems and given a certified cease-and-desist letter notifying him that they had learned he was selling counterfeit CHI irons on the Internet and notifying him of the penalties for trademark infringement.
After the April 2010 cease-and-desist letter, White continued to import supposed CHI products from China. On three occasions, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents seized a total of three packages and determined the CHI products were counterfeit. On each of those occasions, agents mailed White a letter notifying him of the seizures and stating the products were determined to be counterfeit.
Pursuant to a search warrant, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) obtained emails from White’s account. Those emails illustrated that after the cease-and-desist letters and CBP seizures, White and his Chinese suppliers discussed using different shipping carriers and delivery names and addresses in an effort to avoid customs. White also instructed the Chinese supplier to fix certain aspects of the manual and packages for the products he was purchasing.
In September 2010, HSI searched White’s home pursuant to a search warrant, at which time 154 CHI hair irons were seized. Subsequent analysis determined that 147 of the 154 were counterfeit.
U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, who accepted White’s guilty plea today, has set sentencing for Oct. 19, 2012, at which time he faces up to five years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. He was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
The conviction is the result of an investigation conducted by HSI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Martha Minnis is prosecuting the case.