An Italian national who smuggled counterfeit electronics, including Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods, from China for sale in the U.S. was sentenced today to 37 months in prison.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick of the District of New Jersey; Acting Special Agent in Charge Debra Parker of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Newark; and Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal made the announcement.
Rosario La Marca, 54, a resident of Naples, Italy, pleaded guilty on February 22, before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to Count One of an indictment charging him with conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, to smuggle goods into the U.S., and to structure financial transactions, and Count Two, charging him with trafficking in counterfeit goods. Judge McNulty imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to facts admitted during the plea, from July 2009 through February 2014, La Marca, Andreina Becerra, 32, a Venezuelan national, Roberto Volpe, 35, an Italian national, and Jianhua Li, 42, conspired to smuggle into the U.S. from China more than 40,000 electronic devices and accessories bearing counterfeit Apple and Sony trademarks. The estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail prices for an equivalent number of genuine items would have exceeded $15 million. The devices were shipped separately from the labels bearing counterfeit trademarks in order to avoid detection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The devices were then labeled and packaged after they passed through customs.
The defendants then re-shipped the devices to conspirators all over the U.S. 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 – and a portion of the proceeds was then transferred to conspirators in Italy, further disguising the source of the funds.
The defendants made more than 100 illegal wire transfers totaling more than $1.1 million to Hong Kong to facilitate their criminal activity.
In addition to the prison term, Judge McNulty sentenced La Marca to one year of supervised release.
Volpe and Becerra have both pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme and await sentencing. Li has pleaded not guilty. The charges contained in the indictment against him are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was jointly investigated by the HSI Newark Seaport Investigations Group and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Financial Crimes Unit, with significant assistance from Europol and Italy’s Guardia di Finanza.
The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Leslie Schwartz and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Devlin of the District of New Jersey and Trial Attorney Kebharu Smith of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.