Four Individuals Charged for Importing and Trafficking Counterfeit Apple and Sony Technology into the United States
Four individuals were arraigned today in Newark, New Jersey, based on charges for allegedly smuggling counterfeit Sony Camcorders, Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods, from China for sale in the United States, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman of the District of New Jersey, Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Newark and Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.
Andreina Becerra, 30, a Venezuelan national, and Roberto Volpe, 33, an Italian national, both residing in Miami; Jianhua Li, 40, a Chinese national and resident of Guangzhou, China; and Rosario La Marca, 52, an Italian national and resident of Italy, are charged in an eight-count indictment with importing and trafficking fake iPhones, iPads and iPods bearing counterfeit Apple trademarks and fake Camcorders bearing counterfeit Sony trademarks, as well as smuggling, structuring and international money laundering.
The defendants were arrested last week in a coordinated multi-district effort by HSI in Los Angeles, Miami and Newark. The defendants were arraigned this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty of the District of New Jersey.
According to the allegations in the indictment, from July 2009 through February 2014, the defendants conspired to smuggle into the United States from China over 40,000 electronic devices and accessories, including fake iPads, iPhones and iPods, along with labels and packaging, most bearing counterfeit Apple trademarks. The indictment alleges that the estimated manufacturers’ suggested retail prices for an equivalent number of genuine items would have exceeded $15 million.
The indictment alleges that, to avoid detection by U.S. Customs officials, the devices often were shipped separately from the labels bearing counterfeit trademarks, and then were labeled and packaged after they passed through U.S. Customs and Border Protection. According to the indictment, the defendants then re-shipped the devices throughout the United States to co-conspirators. According to the indictment, proceeds from the sales of the devices were funneled back to the defendants’ accounts in Florida and New Jersey via structured cash deposits – broken into multiple deposits of less than $10,000 each to avoid bank reporting requirements. The indictment further alleges that a portion of the proceeds was then transferred to co-conspirators in Italy, further disguising the source of the funds. According to the indictment, the defendants made more than 100 illegal wire transfers totaling over $1.1 million to Li’s Hong Kong accounts to facilitate their criminal activity.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the HSI Newark Seaport Investigations Group and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office White Collar Crimes Squad, with significant assistance from Europol and Italian law enforcement authorities. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Counsel Evan Williams and Rudy Orjales of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leslie Schwartz and Sarah Devlin of the District of New Jersey.
The enforcement action announced today is one of many efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force). The IP Task Force supports prosecution priorities, promotes innovation through heightened civil enforcement, enhances coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and focuses on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce/.