Case # 14WF4259
Date: August 28, 2015
TWO MEN SENTENCED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING AND CONSPIRING TO SELL COUNTERFEIT ELECTRONIC MERCHANDISE VALUED AT NEARLY $3 MILLION
*Items included Apple iPhones, iPads, smartphones, and cameras. Third co-defendant in this case is a fugitive.
WESTMINSTER, Calif. – Two men were sentenced today formoney laundering and conspiring to sell counterfeit electronic goods valued at nearly $3 million, including counterfeit iPhones and iPads, following an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) and the Fountain Valley Police Department (FVPD).
Rateb Said Najjar, 60, and his son, Eyad Rateb Najjar, 36, both of Westminster, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit trademark counterfeiting, one felony count of trademark counterfeiting, one felony count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one felony count of money laundering, and sentencing enhancements for the value of the counterfeit merchandise seized over $1.3 million and money laundering over $2.5 million. Both defendants were each sentenced to eight years and four months in jail stayed pending the completion of three years formal probation, ordered to serve one year in jail and ordered to forfeit over $500,000 in cash assets to the County of Orange General Fund.
Eyad Najjar was arrested by HSI special agents and detectives from FVPD on Dec. 10, 2014. Rateb Najjar surrendered himself to the court on Dec. 17, 2014.
A third defendant, Amir Ali Shaerzadeh, 36, Irvine, is charged with 134 felony counts of money laundering, six felony counts of manufacturing and sale of a counterfeit mark, two felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime with sentencing enhancements for property damage over $1.3 million, and money laundering in excess of $2.5 million. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of104 years in jail. Shaerzadeh is currently a fugitive with an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
Rateb Najjar and Eyad Najjar were convicted of and Shaerzadeh is accused of the following:
Between January 2010 and December 2011, the defendants owned and operated businesses in Fountain Valley that sold counterfeit merchandise imported from Hong Kong and China. They conspired to import and distribute counterfeit trademark items, possessed counterfeit trademark items offered for sale, and engaged in money laundering conspiracy involving numerous registered trademarks including Apple, Nokia, Blackberry, Ferrari, Nintendo, and Google.
The defendants laundered over $5 million and possessed counterfeit merchandise with a retail value of more than $2.8 million including cell phones, tablet computers, portable media players, and game consoles.
“People who sell counterfeit products are essentially stealing from legitimate companies, along with the men and women who depend on those businesses for their livelihoods,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “Beyond undermining our economy and robbing Americans of jobs, the sale of product knockoffs often goes to fund other illegal enterprises. Counterfeit goods trafficking poses a threat on many levels and we’re determined to see that those who attempt to profit from it pay a price for their crimes.”
In November 2011, an investigation began after officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted a shipment of tablets that were found to contain counterfeit software. During the investigation, FVPD and HSI seized a significant volume of counterfeit merchandise from the various businesses tied to the defendants, along with more than $500,000 in cash inside a safe and funds seized from multiple bank accounts.
The International Anti-counterfeiting Coalition estimates that product counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses $200 to $250 billion a year in lost revenue.
FVPD and HSI investigated this case. Deputy District Attorney Chuck Lawhorn of the Major Fraud Unit/White Collar Crime Team is prosecuting this case.