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Intellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud
01/12/2015

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Counterfeit smuggler pleads guilty after HSI investigation

Counterfeit smuggler pleads guilty after HSI investigation
Counterfeit smuggler pleads guilty after HSI investigation
Counterfeit NFL, NBA and NHL jerseys fill the shelves in the Breezewood store owned by a Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty to trafficking counterfeit goods

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — A resident of Everett, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to trafficking in counterfeit goods after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents seized more than a 1,000 fake sports jerseys.

John F. Crawford IV, 48, trafficked in various counterfeit National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball logo apparel. In October 2012, HSI Pittsburgh was tipped off that Crawford’s gift shop in Breezewood, Pennsylvania, was selling counterfeit Pittsburgh Steelers trademarked merchandise, including the NFL team jerseys.

HSI special agents found 1,089 counterfeit jerseys representing NFL, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball teams when they investigated Crawford’s store and residence Oct. 25, 2012. The seized jerseys were calculated to have cost the trademark holders a loss of about $220,000.

The business records showed that Crawford had purchased about 5,500 counterfeit jerseys in the last five years, resulting in a possible 4,400 fake jerseys in his shop sold to the public.

“Not only did this shop owner take advantage of his customers, this type of criminal behavior also costs Americans jobs and results in a loss of revenue for legitimate businesses,” said John Kelleghan, HSI Philadelphia special agent in charge.

The sentencing is scheduled for May 12, 2015, at 10 a.m. in federal court in  Johnstown. The law provides for a total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $2,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court released Crawford on $5,000 bond.

Pittsburgh HSI efforts are part of a much broader cross industry and federal consortium to protect American consumers and commerce through the ICE-led Intellectual Property Rights Center (IPRC) with its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 23-member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy.

To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 01/14/2015