Skip to main content
Press Release

Chinese National Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison for Trafficking Counterfeit Apple Goods into United States

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A Chinese national living in the United States on a student visa was sentenced today to 37 months in prison for 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; Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Newark, and Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella made the announcement.

Jianhua “Jeff” Li, 44, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and labels and smuggle goods into the United States and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods. Judge McNulty imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to 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.

In addition to the prison term, Judge McNulty sentenced Li to one year of supervised release.

LaMarca, Becerra, and Volpe previously pleaded guilty to their respective roles in the scheme. LaMarca was sentenced July 21, 2017, to 37 months in prison. Becerra and Volpe were sentenced Oct. 15, 2018, to three years’ probation and 22 months in prison, respectively.

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.

The government is represented by 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.   

Updated July 30, 2019

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 19-222