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July 6, 2015Newark, NJ, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

4 people indicted in New Jersey for trafficking counterfeit technology

NEWARK, N.J. — Four individuals were indicted in federal court Wednesday for allegedly smuggling counterfeit Sony and Apple products from China, for sale in the United States.

This charge resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance from the Bergen County Prosecutors Office.

The following individuals were charged in an eight-count indictment with importing and trafficking in counterfeit goods, smuggling, structuring and international money laundering.

  • Andreina Becerra, 30, a Venezuelan national residing in Miami, Florida
  • Roberto Volpe, 33, an Italian national residing in Miami, Florida
  • Jianhua Li, 40, a Chinese national and resident of Guangzhou, China and,
  • Rosario La Marca, 52, an Italian national and resident of Italy,

According to court documents, from July 2009 through February 2014, the defendants conspired to smuggle into the United States from China more than 40,000 electronic devices and accessories, including fake iPads, iPhones and iPods, along with labels and packaging, most bearing counterfeit Apple and Sony trademarks.  The indictment alleges that the estimated manufacturers’ suggested retail prices for an equivalent number of genuine items would have exceeded $15 million.

The indictment alleges that, to avoid detection by U.S. Customs officials, the devices often were shipped separately from the labels bearing counterfeit trademarks, which were then labeled and packaged after they passed through U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  The defendants then re-shipped the devices throughout the United States to co-conspirators.

The proceeds from the sales of the devices were 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. Structuring bank deposits to avoid reporting requirements is a federal felony.

The indictment further alleges that a portion of the proceeds was then transferred to co-conspirators in Italy, further disguising the source of the funds.  According to the indictment, the defendants made more than 100 illegal wire transfers totaling more than $1.1 million to Li’s Hong Kong accounts to facilitate their criminal activity.

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