SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Springfield, Mo., man has pleaded guilty in federal court to charges related to a scheme to sell thousands of counterfeit DVDs over the Internet.
Matthew Cerullo, 42, of Springfield, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush on Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, to a four-count information that charges him with mail fraud, trafficking in counterfeit labels, trafficking in counterfeit goods and making false statements to federal agents.
Based on records obtained from the U.S. Postal Service, the United Parcel Service (UPS), DHL, EBay and Amazon.com, federal agents determined that Cerullo purchased and received more than 22,000 counterfeit DVDs from a distributor in Hong Kong, China between Feb. 13, 2013 and Sept. 10, 2013.
According to court documents, the federal investigation began when a shipment of counterfeit DVDs from Hong Kong was seized by Customs and Border Protection agents at JFK Airport. The counterfeit DVDs were being shipped to a UPS store located in Springfield under the name of a business owned by Cerullo.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents interviewed Cerullo at his residence on May 2, 2013. Cerullo told agents that he had not receive a seizure notice from Customs and Border Protection. Cerullo also told agents that he orders toys and jewelry from China to resell on EBay or to local venders, but does not buy DVDs. Cerullo claimed that he owns only one business, C3 Wholesale, LLC.
During the course of the investigation, however, agents learned that Cerullo’s statement contained false and fraudulent information that was designed to mislead them and their investigation. Agents determined that Cerullo had in fact received four prior seizure notices from Customers and Border Protection; these notices were discovered in his desk during the execution of a search warrant at his residence. Agents also learned that Cerullo owned, operated and sold counterfeit DVDs through four different businesses: C3 Wholesale, LLC; EJC Supply, LLC; Midwest Wholesale and Capital Sierra, LLC; and EJC Supply Company.
On Sept. 3, 2013, agents observed Cerullo mail a large quantity of packages at a local post office. Postal Inspectors inspected the contents of these packages and discovered that Cerullo had mailed 165 packages of counterfeit DVDs to various individuals around the country. Inspectors also noted that the return address on each package was fictitious.
The next day, federal agents executed a search warrant on Cerullo’s residence and a storage locker that Cerullo rented. Agents discovered more than 22,000 counterfeit DVDs between those locations.
Under federal statutes, Cerullo is subject to a sentence of up to 40 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security.