Passaic County Man Sentenced To Prison For Role In Long-running, International Counterfeit Goods Trafficking Scheme
NEWARK, N.J. – A Passaic County, N.J., man was sentenced today to a year and a day in prison for participating for several years in an international conspiracy to sell counterfeit sneakers and bedding smuggled from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) into the United States, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Aref Abuhadba, 50, of Totowa, N.J., previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods. Judge Cavanaugh imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From 2003 through 2010, Abuhadba and others conspired to import counterfeit Nike sneakers and counterfeit Walt Disney-brand comforters and blankets from the PRC for resale in the United States. Abuhadba worked in concert with a conspirator in the PRC, who acted as a middleman between the manufacturers of counterfeit goods in the PRC and Abuhadba in the United States, purchasing the goods and arranging for them to be shipped to various ports of entry within the United States. Once the containers arrived, other conspirators arranged for them to be delivered to warehouses and other locations controlled by Abuhadba, who would then distribute the counterfeit goods to customers.
Abuhadba was also responsible for collecting money from customers and wiring the proceeds of the scheme to the conspirators. For his participation, Abuhadba received a fee of up to $42,000 for each container that was successfully imported into the United States. If a container was seized by law enforcement, Abuhadba was sometimes responsible for a portion of the costs of the goods in the seized container.
According to emails reviewed by law enforcement during the investigation, in late 2008, a number of containers with contents valued at millions of dollars were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). On Sept. 17, 2008, CBP agents inspected a container at Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport in Long Beach, Calif., destined for Abuhadba in New Jersey. There were more than 10,000 pairs of counterfeit Nike Air Force One sneakers – bearing various Nike trademarks – in the container. The cost of the goods seized was approximately $200,000, with an approximate retail value of $1.5 million. Following the 2008 seizures, Abuhadba exchanged numerous e-mails with the PRC conspirator discussing the seizures and encouraged the PRC conspirator to send false letters to CBP stating that the seized containers were delivered by mistake and were not intended for Abuhadba.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Cavanaugh sentenced Abuhadba to serve two years of supervised release. During his guilty plea proceeding, Abuhadba presented the government with a check for $200,000, representing his ill-gotten gains from his involvement in the conspiracy. He was also ordered to pay an additional $25,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Fishman praised special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, for the investigation leading to today’s sentence.
The government is represented by Deputy Chief Gurbir S. Grewal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: Edward Bilinkas Esq., Randolph, N.J., and Peter V. Ryan Esq., Newark