Columbia Couple Pleads Guilty to Selling Counterfeit Disney Movies on eBay
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Columbia, Missouri, couple pleaded guilty in federal court today to a scheme to smuggle counterfeit Disney DVDs into the United States and sell them on eBay.
Tabitha Nicole Rodgers, 42, and her husband, Clint Travis Rodgers, 48, pleaded guilty in separate appearances before Magistrate Judge Willie J. Epps, Jr. Tabitha Rodgers pleaded guilty to one felony count of criminal copyright infringement for profit. Clint Rodgers pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of criminal infringement of a copyright.
In July 2014, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) received information from the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center indicating that Clint Rodgers had received more than 443 shipments of counterfeit DVDs from companies in Hong Kong known to sell and export counterfeit goods. HSI agents identified two shipments that had been seized prior to delivery to the Rodgers’ home in Columbia. One shipment contained 200 counterfeit “Beauty and the Beast” DVDs and another shipment contained 260 counterfeit “Aladdin” DVDs. On Feb. 4, 2015, Customs and Border Protection agents seized a parcel addressed to Clint Rodgers that contained 200 counterfeit Disney DVDs.
According to today’s plea agreement, undercover federal agents purchased several counterfeit Disney DVDs from the Rodgers on eBay in February and March 2015. The Rodgers represented that the DVDs were genuine and authentic Disney products, when in reality, they were aware the products were counterfeit. During the investigation, agents contacted two persons who assisted the Rodgers in selling counterfeit DVDs on eBay. They told agents they were aware of numerous complaints from customers, including complaints that the DVDs didn’t work.
On Aug. 25, 2015, HSI agents executed a search warrant at the Rodgers’ residence. Agents seized an assortment of counterfeit goods, including numerous counterfeit Disney DVDs. Tabitha Rodgers admitted that she conducted the day-to-day operation of the business. She corresponded via email with the counterfeit DVD supplier in Hong Kong and placed orders for the DVDs. She also packaged and sent the DVDs to customers and processed customer complaints when DVDs were inoperable.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Tabitha Rodgers must forfeit to the government a money judgment in an amount to be determined by the court at sentencing that represents her share of the proceeds from the criminal activity.
Under federal statutes, Tabitha Rodgers is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole. Clint Rodgers is subject to a sentence of up to one year in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lynn. It was investigated by Homeland Security Investigation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.