Four charged with smuggling counterfeit Apple and Sony gear

Four people were indicted in New Jersey on federal charges for smuggling counterfeit Sony and Apple Products from China. More than 40,000 electronic devices and accessories, along with labels and packaging had counterfeit trademarks and were secured for sale in the US. They were labeled and packaged after they passed through US Customs and Border Protection. Cash deposits were strategically made in amounts under $10,000 to various bank accounts to avoid reporting bank requirements. This resulted in over 100 illegal wire transfers of over one million dollars. The FBI has recently increased enforcement measures by collaborating with the Bureau’s Intellectual Property and Cyber-Enabled Crimes Unit at the NIPRCC.  These cash deposits are alleged not only as a part of the conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods and labels, but as a separate crime punishable by 31 US Code 5324, with a maximum term of five years just for this charge. Further, there is an enhanced penalty for aggravated cases of transactions amounting more than $100,000 in the past 12 months for which it is punishable not only by doubling the fines but also by 10 years in prison.

Enforcement measures have grown more stringent over the years because of risks to stifling economic growth and American technological advantage.  Government statistics report losses of claims in over billions annually in the industry.  The government therefore actively employs intelligence measures to seek enforcement and detection of conspiracies of transport designed to conceal and disguise the true nature, location, source, ownership of the money when money laundering is involved. 18 US 1956 sets out heavy penalties of up to 20 years in prison or fines in the amount of $500,000 or twice the value of the monetary funds involved in the transfer, whichever is greater.

The constitution places the burden of proof on the government to show beyond a reasonable doubt that a person had a specific intent to conduct the prohibited transaction, as for instance, with the intent to conceal the true source. The mere evidence of a financial transaction in and of itself is not proof of a crime there must be a showing of specific intent to accompany it. A solid defense will focus on eliminating any showing of improper intent associated with questionable transactions. A conviction cannot stand on weak evidence and defense attorneys are dedicated to evaluating and attacking all strategic evidentiary considerations in a given case.

Whoever traffics counterfeit goods in labels known to bear a counterfeit mark which is likely to cause confusion or deception may be punished by a maximum of 10 years in prison and fined a maximum of $2,000,000, or $5,000,000 if the crime involves an organization. For every subsequent offense, the crime is punishable by a prison term of up to 20 years. 18 US 2320.

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