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Four charged with smuggling 40,000 counterfeit Apple and Sony products

Four foreign nationals were arraigned in federal court Wednesday in Newark, New Jersey on charges of smuggling counterfeit Sony Camcorders and Apple iPhones, iPads, and iPods from China for sale in the United States.

Those charged were Andreina Becerra, 30, a Venezuelan, and Roberto Volpe, 33, an Italian, both living in Miami, and Jianhua Li, 40, a Chinese national living in Guangzhou, China, and Rosario La Marca, 52, an Italian living in Italy.

All four were charged in an eight-count indictment (pdf) with importing and trafficking fake iPhones, iPads, and iPods bearing counterfeit Apple trademarks, and fake Camcorders bearing counterfeit Sony trademarks. They were also charged with smuggling, structuring, and international money laundering.

The defendants were arrested last week during a sweep in Los Angeles, Miami, and Newark. 

They allegedly trafficked about 40,000 counterfeit Apple and Sony items worth $15 million at retail prices for genuine merchandise. The alleged offenses happened from 2009 to 2014.

The DOJ said the defendants hid the counterfeiting from U.S. Customs agents by shipping the goods separately from the labels bearing counterfeit trademarks. Once in the U.S., the labels were attached and the goods were reshipped around the country, the DOJ said.

According to the indictment, money from the sales was funneled back to the defendants’ accounts in Florida and New Jersey via structured cash deposits — broken into multiple deposits of less than $10,000 each to avoid bank reporting requirements. 

Some of the money was then transferred to co-conspirators in Italy.

There were also more than 100 allegedly illegal wire transfers to accounts in Hong Kong belonging to the defendant Li worth over $1.1 million.

As the DOJ said, the charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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