India- and New Jersey-Based Jeweler Charged with Multimillion-Dollar International Trade Fraud Scheme and Unlicensed Money Transmitting
TRENTON, N.J. – The chief executive officer of a Passaic, New Jersey, company today admitted falsifying data plates on forklifts provided to the U.S. Army to make it appear as if the forklifts, which were purchased in China, had been manufactured in the United States, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
James Cai, 33, of Hackensack, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert A. Kirsch in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with one count of making false statements in connection with the provision of two forklifts to a U.S. Army installation, Fort Cavazos, in Killeen, Texas.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From September 2018 to January 2019, Cai, through his company, Toner Connect LLC, submitted bids on, and obtained, contracts to supply various U.S. Army installations with forklifts. The contracts required that the forklifts be compliant with the Buy American Act (BAA), that is, the forklifts had to be manufactured in the United States and at least 50 percent of the cost of the forklift components had to be of U.S. origin.
One of those contracts awarded Toner Connect LLC $247,000 for the provision of two FD150 diesel forklifts to Fort Cavazos. Despite the BAA clause in that contract, and in order to reduce costs, Cai purchased the two forklifts from a company based in Shanghai, China. To conceal the origin of the forklifts and make them appear compliant with the BAA, Cai installed data plates on the forklifts that falsely stated:
Final Assembly in the USA
Millennial Enterprise LLC
Newark, NJ 07102
North American Headquarters
After the forklifts were delivered to Fort Cavazos on Aug. 26, 2019, Fort Cavazos personnel discovered that the forklifts had multiple operational problems and could not be repaired due to the concealment of their true make and model.
The charge to which Cai pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for April 11, 2024.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the U.S. Army, Criminal Investigation Division, Major Procurement Fraud Field Office, under the direction of Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael Curran; and special agents of the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Hegarty, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen P. O’Leary of the Economic Crimes Unit.