Woman Sentenced For Selling Counterfeit Samsung Batteries
HOUSTON – Graciella Balderrama-Acevedo, 53, has pleaded guilty and was sentenced for her part in a conspiracy to sell counterfeit Samsung batteries, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
At the hearing today, the court heard from a representative of Samsung who explained Samsung takes pride in producing quality products. He noted that they take very seriously and are extremely concerned anytime counterfeit products, that are a violation of their trademark, are introduced into the United States. Of particular concern is when they pose such a public safety risk like counterfeit lithium-ion batteries. U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller found Balderrama responsible for more than $90,000 in restitution to Samsung and will serve 12 months and 1 day in federal prison. Balderrama is a Mexican citizen who had resided in Houston and is expected to face deportation proceedings following her release from prison.
Balderrama engaged in a conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods. Balderrama received the lithium-ion batteries from an individual in China who was engaged in sending them in bulk to people in the U.S. who then forward the counterfeit products on to individual Ebay purchasers.
On Oct. 30, 2014, a search warrant was executed at Balderrama’s home. At that time, authorities found the packaging, additional batteries as well as text communications from Balderrama supporting her involvement in this conspiracy. In some of those messages with her contact in China, she makes admissions as to knowledge of the counterfeit items but agrees to continue working.
Balderrama admitted to authorities she knew the batteries were not actual Samsung batteries but continued to package and sell them anyway.
Counterfeit Lithium-ion batteries are a public safety concern because they do not follow safety regulations and have been found to set themselves on fire and harm individuals. This is especially a growing problem in China where the batteries are made.
Those charged in relation to this case were identified through an investigation conducted by HSI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Celia Moyer and Richard Bennett.