A Chinese national living in the United States on a student visa was sentenced today to 37 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release for his role in a scheme to traffic and smuggle counterfeit Apple products, including phony iPhones and iPads, from China into the United States.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito of the District of New Jersey, Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Newark and Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella made the announcement.
Jianhua “Jeff” Li, 44, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty of the District of New Jersey, to one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and labels and smuggle goods into the United States and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods. Judge McNulty imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, from July 2009 through February 2014, Li, working through his company Dream Digitals, conspired with Andreina Becerra, Roberto Volpe, Rosario LaMarca and others to smuggle and traffic into the United States from China more than 40,000 electronic devices and accessories, including iPads and iPhones, along with labels and packaging bearing counterfeit Apple trademarks.
Li shipped the devices separately from the labels to avoid detection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. The devices were then shipped to conspirators all over the United States. Proceeds were funneled back to conspirator accounts in Florida and New Jersey via structured cash deposits and then a portion was transferred to conspirators in Italy, further disguising the source of the funds. Over $1.1 million in sales proceeds were wired from U.S. accounts into accounts Li controlled overseas.
LaMarca, Becerra, and Volpe previously pleaded guilty to their respective roles in the scheme. LaMarca was sentenced July 21, 2017, to serve 37 months in prison. Becerra and Volpe were sentenced Oct. 15, 2018, to serve three years’ probation and 22 months in prison, respectively.
The HSI Newark Seaport Investigations Group and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Financial Crimes Unit investigated the case with significant assistance from HSI Attaché Rome, Europol and Italy’s Guardia di Finanza.
Senior Trial Attorney Kebharu Smith of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Schwartz of the District of New Jersey prosecuted the case.