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Intellectual Property Rights
09/28/2012

5 Fresno men charged in HSI probe targeting major counterfeit DVD trafficking scheme

FRESNO, Calif.– Five Fresno men have been indicted on federal charges following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that uncovered a scheme to produce and sell tens of thousands of counterfeit movie and audio disks valued at more than $1 million.

The defendants – Jose Antonio Hernandez, aka "Tonio," 40; Damian Morales-Jeronimo, 26; Jose Eduardo Jeronimo, 24; Genaro Vela-Rodriguez, 27; and Librada Sucilla-Sanchez, aka "Lala", 47 – are charged in a four-count indictment with criminal copyright infringement, criminal copyright infringement for personal gain, trafficking in counterfeit labels and conspiracy to commit those offenses, along with a forfeiture allegation. The men were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara McAuliffe Friday afternoon.

According to the indictment, from July to September 18, the defendants were involved in an far-reaching scheme to manufacture and distribute more than 100,000 counterfeit DVD movies and audio CDs. Some of the discs featured movies that were only in theatrical release and not yet available on DVD, including "Batman, The Dark Knight Rises," "Ice Age 4," "Ted," "The Avengers" and "Magic Mike." The retail value of the copyrighted works was more than $1.3 million.

"American jobs and American innovation are under assault from counterfeiters and pirates around the globe," said Paul Leonardi, resident agent in charge for HSI Fresno. "The production and sale of product knock-offs amounts to economic sabotage and the only ones who benefit are the counterfeiters, who are getting rich at America's expense."

HSI received substantial support with this investigation from the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry of Association of America.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stanley A. Boone and Grant Rabenn who are assigned to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.

For more information, visit www.ice.gov.