Chinese National Admits Trafficking Counterfeit Apple Goods Into The United States
NEWARK, N.J. - A Chinese national living in the United States on a student visa today admitted his role in a scheme to traffic and smuggle counterfeit Apple products, including phony iPhones and iPads, from China into the United States.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito of the District of New Jersey; Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael McCarthy of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Newark, and Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo made the announcement.
Jianhua “Jeff” Li, 43, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court to one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and labels and to smuggle goods into the United States and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From July 2009 through February 2014, Li, working through his company Dream Digitals, conspired with Andreina Becerra, Roberto Volpe, Rosario LaMarca, and others to smuggle and traffic into the United States from China more than 40,000 electronic devices and accessories, including iPads and iPhones, along with labels and packaging bearing counterfeit Apple trademarks.
Li shipped the devices separately from the labels to avoid detection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. The devices were then shipped to conspirators all over the United States. Proceeds were funneled back to conspirator accounts in Florida and New Jersey via structured cash deposits and then a portion was transferred to conspirators in Italy, further disguising the source of the funds. Over $1.1 million in sales proceeds were wired from U.S. accounts into accounts Li controlled overseas.
The conspiracy charge to which Li pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The trafficking charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine. His sentencing is scheduled for May 30, 2018.
LaMarca previously pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and was sentenced July 21, 2017 to 37 months in prison. Becerra and Volpe have also pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
The HSI Newark Seaport Investigations Group and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Financial Crimes Unit investigated the case with significant assistance from Europol and Italy’s Guardia di Finanza.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Schwartz of the District of New Jersey and Senior Trial Attorney Kebharu Smith of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and are prosecuting the case.
Defense counsel: Perry Primavera Esq., Hackensack, New Jersey