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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Four Individuals Charged For Importing And Trafficking Counterfeit Apple And Sony Technology Into The United States

NEWARK, N.J. – Four people were charged today for allegedly smuggling counterfeit Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods, and Sony camcorders, from China for sale in the United States, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman of the District of New Jersey, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Newark and Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli announced.

The eight-count indictment charges Andreina Becerra, 30, a Venezuelan national, and Roberto Volpe, 33, an Italian national, both of Miami; Jianhua Li, 40, a Chinese national and resident of Guangzhou, China; and Rosario La Marca, 52, an Italian national and resident of Naples, Italy, 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 Court Judge Kevin McNulty Newark federal court.

According to the indictment:

From July 2009 through February 2014 the defendants allegedly conspired to smuggle into the United States from China more than 40,000 electronic devices and accessories. The estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail prices for an equivalent number of genuine items would have exceeded $15 million. The devices were often shipped separately from the labels bearing counterfeit trademarks in order avoid detection by Customs and Border Protection. The devices were then labeled and packaged after they passed through customs.

The defendants then allegedly re-shipped the devices to conspirators all over the United States. 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 – and a portion of the proceeds was then transferred to conspirators in Italy, further disguising the source of the funds.

According to the indictment, the defendants made more than 100 illegal wire transfers totaling more than $1.1 million to Li’s Hong Kong accounts to facilitate their criminal activity.

This case was jointly 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 Italy’s Guardia di Finanza.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leslie Schwartz and Sarah Devlin of the District of New Jersey, Senior Counsel Evan Williams and Rudy Orjales of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

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 was created to combat the growing number of  domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation, and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus 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/.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
15-256
Updated July 1, 2015