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Intellectual Property Rights

Tampa Super Bowl t-shirt counterfeiter sentenced to 6 months in prison

TAMPA, Fla. - Willie Smith, 39, of Irmo, S.C., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge James S. Moody, Jr., to six months in federal prison for selling counterfeit Super Bowl XLIII t-shirts, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Tampa Police Department (TPD).

The court also ordered Smith to forfeit t-shirts and screen printing equipment and to refrain from engaging in any employment related to manufacture, production, or sales of t-shirts, hats, uniforms, or any clothing merchandise during his term of supervised release.

As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling, and distributing counterfeit products. ICE investigations focus not only on keeping counterfeit products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity.

"Unfortunately, there are people who take advantage of fan enthusiasm and attempt to profit by stealing trademarks and trusted brands to sell their substandard items," said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge of ICE in Tampa. "This sentencing is a win for the businesses that are affected by these kinds of crimes."

Smith had pleaded guilty on Nov. 2, 2009. According to court documents, Smith had traveled on Nov. 2, 2009, from South Carolina to sell the counterfeit Super Bowl t-shirts at Raymond James Stadium. Approximately 165 t-shirts and one roll of NCAA holograms were seized when Smith was arrested. According to statements made at sentencing, Smith had a history of selling counterfeit merchandise, including at a NASCAR event in Daytona Beach.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laurel F. Moore.