Upstate Man Pleads Guilty to Trafficking in Counterfeit Goods
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that Joshua D. Korb., age 38, of Greenville, pled guilty in federal court in Greenville, to trafficking in counterfeit goods, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2320. Senior United States District Judge Henry M. Herlong, Jr., of Greenville, accepted the plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Korb ran an online EBay store called Steel-Town Memorabilia. The investigation was initiated from a request by the National Football League (NFL) because of numerous complaints received by EBay and PayPal that Korb sold counterfeit NFL merchandise and sports memorabilia.
Agents from the United States Postal Inspection Service made six undercover purchases from Steel-Town Memorabilia of NFL merchandise advertised as authentic. Experts examined all the merchandise and determined all of the items were counterfeit because they were not manufactured by the trademark holder, not licensed or authorized by the NFL, contained a fake certificate of authenticity, or contained a forged signature.
Based on the results from the undercover buys, federal agents obtained and executed a search warrant on Korb’s Greenville residence. Agents seized 2,911 pieces of NFL memorabilia. These items included counterfeit jerseys, forged signatures of current and former NFL players on NFL replica footballs and jerseys, and forged signatures of current and former NFL players on photos and posters. Agents also seized counterfeit certificate of authenticity seals.
In an interview with agents, Korb admitted that he purchased and sold counterfeit merchandise through his Steel-Town Memorabilia store. He told agents he signed the names of current and former NFL players to sports memorabilia and that he listed and sold some of the items as authentic NFL merchandise through Steel-Town Memorabilia. Korb started Steel-Town Memorabilia as a part-time business in 2006 after the Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XL but it expanded into a full-time business after the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII in 2009.
Law enforcement estimates that Korb trafficked in more than $4 million worth of counterfeit goods before the search warrant shut down his business.
Ms. Drake stated the maximum penalty a defendant can receive is a fine of $2,000,000 and/or imprisonment for 10 years, three years of supervised release, and a special assessment of $100.
The case was investigated by agents of the United States Postal Inspection Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, and the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, representatives of the NFL, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball also assisted in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.