Two Bessemer Men Indicted For Trafficking Counterfeit Apparel
BIRMINGHAM – A federal grand jury today indicted two Bessemer men for trafficking in counterfeit clothing, accessories and shoes in the Birmingham area, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr.
JOHNNIE HILL JR., 59, and MOUSSA ADAMOU, 43, are charged in separate and unrelated indictments filed in U.S. District Court. Hill also is charged as a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, a Jimenez Arms 9mm semi-automatic pistol.
Violating criminal laws that protect copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets is considered theft of intellectual property.
“Copying someone else’s product in order to make a profit is theft,” Vance said. “Those who traffic in counterfeit goods harm legitimate retailers, as well as the consumers who purchase the substandard merchandise,” she said. “The Department of Justice and my office are working hard to protect American businesses and consumers from the damaging effects of intellectual property crime.”
“Criminals who sell counterfeit products don’t pay taxes that go to supporting healthcare, paving roads and providing other vital government services,” Parmer said. “They are parasites on the legitimate businesses that drive our economy and cost American workers their jobs.” Parmer oversees a five-state area of responsibility for HSI that includes Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Hill is charged with selling counterfeit goods through a store on Warrior Road in Birmingham from February 2011 to March 2013. Count 1 of the indictment charges that Hill trafficked in handbags, wallets, clothing, scarfs, belts, hats, shoes and glasses bearing counterfeit marks or logos for companies including Louis Vuitton Malletier, Nike, LaCoste, Ralph Lauren Polo, Gucci, Coggi, Ed Hardy, Coach, Michael Kors, Prada, Gianni Versace, Chanel, True Religion Jeans and New Era.
The indictment also charges that Hill possessed the 9mm semi-automatic pistol on March 14, 2013, after having previously been convicted of four felonies in state court – first degree robbery, first degree theft of property, promoting prison contraband and trafficking in marijuana – between 1985 and 1997.
The indictment against Adamou charges him with selling counterfeit goods from a tent on Ninth Avenue North in Bessemer in September 2012. Adamou trafficked in handbags, purses, clothing and shoes bearing counterfeit marks or logos for companies including Louis Vuitton Malletier, Nike, LaCoste, Ralph Lauren Polo, Gucci, Coggi, Rocawear, Coach, Michael Kors, Dolce, Tory Burch, Apple Bottom, Phat, True Religion Jeans and the NFL.
Trafficking in counterfeit goods carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine. Possessing a firearm as a convicted felon carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
HSI investigated both cases. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael W. Whisonant Sr. is prosecuting the cases.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent and it will be the government’s responsibility to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.