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Intellectual Property Rights

Sale of counterfeit goods results in 3-year prison term

Defendant continued illegal import and sale of fraudulent goods after pleading guilty

SEATTLE - A former resident of Island County, Wash., was sentenced to three years in prison, three years of supervised release and $1.6 million in restitution for importing and reselling fraudulent products on the Internet, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Bryan Polee, 29, formerly of Oak Harbor, Wash., and Manhattan Beach, Calif., pleaded guilty in February 2009 to trafficking in counterfeit goods. He was released from custody pending sentencing on the charges.

In July 2009, ICE agents learned that Polee continued his illegal scheme of importing and selling fraudulent items in violation of his pre-sentencing conditions of release. A subsequent search of his residence in California turned up nearly $70,000 in counterfeit goods.

An analysis of his PayPal records revealed that between March 2009 and July 2009, he earned $50,000 from the sale of goods believed to be fraudulent. He was returned to federal custody on Sept. 3, 2009.

"In pursuit of a quick profit, the defendant peddled counterfeit goods on the Internet, selling brand name items to an unsuspecting public," said Brad Bench, acting special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Seattle. "Because this type of crime victimizes consumers and harms the economic interests of legitimate businesses, ICE will continue to aggressively investigate those who engage in this type of activity. "

According to court documents in this case, in January 2005, Polee began importing goods labeled with counterfeit trademarks making it appear as though they were made by reputable manufacturers including Nautilus, Inc., Fitness Quest and Homeland Housewares. Many of the counterfeit items are routinely advertised on television infomercials.

Under the name ZMP Enterprises of Oak Harbor, Polee would sell the fraudulent items online. Over a three-year period, his sales totaled more than $2.1 million.

More than nine containers of counterfeit items associated with Polee have been seized by the government. All of the items will be destroyed.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection assisted ICE in this investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary K. Dimke.