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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Oregon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Sacramento Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Counterfeit Air Bag Covers and Nameplate Badges

PORTLAND, Ore. – Pavel Ryzhenkov, 32, of Sacramento, California, pleaded guilty today to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods.

According to court documents, between December 2015 and September 2017, Ryzhenkov sold counterfeit air bag covers on eBay. He purchased the counterfeit covers from manufacturers in China and in turn advertised and sold them as genuine with the trademarks of various auto manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Mercury, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

Air bag covers made by unauthorized manufacturers can malfunction causing serious injury or death. Upon deployment of an air bag in a crash, counterfeit air bag covers can shatter, sending shrapnel into a vehicle’s passenger compartment.

“Mr. Ryzhenkov did not disclose the origin of the counterfeit air bag covers and thereby caused consumers to unknowingly operate vehicles not equipped with properly functioning air bags, posing a serious risk to their safety,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

“Counterfeit products pose real safety risks. In this case, counterfeit air bag covers could mean the difference between life and death,” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Seattle, which oversees the agency’s Portland office that conducted this investigation. “This investigation represents HSI’s commitment to protecting consumers. No one wants to be behind the wheel when an air bag doesn’t function properly.” 

Ryzhenkov faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $2 million fine and three years of supervised release. He will be sentenced on December 12, 2018 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon.

HSI in Portland, Oregon, investigated this case. It is being prosecuted by Quinn Harrington and Scott Bradford, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

Consumers who have had their air bags or air bag covers serviced by a repair shop that is not part of a new car dealership or who have purchased an air bag or air bag cover online should contact their auto manufacturer to have their vehicle inspected and their air bag or air bag cover replaced if necessary. The responsibility for replacing a counterfeit air bag or air bag cover will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the original installation of the part. More information can be found on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website at www.nhtsa.gov.

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Updated August 21, 2018