Counterfeit Goods Indictments

When I think of when I was in Italy seven years ago or so, there are a few things that stick out in my mind.  (Apart from just being in Italy, that is.)  One is the ad for a multi-line phone, which was dubbed “Il telefono del futuro.”  Another thing was the guy in Rome near the Trevi Fountain who tried to sell me his pocket lint.  And yet another was the group of men in Verona who set up “shop” on a street corner.  Spread out on a blanket were purses, wallets, satchels, and sunglasses, all purporting to be Prada or Gucci or choose-your-own-luxury-brand, and all at incredible discounts.  Now, when a roaming band of Carabinieri happened to stroll by, the merchants would simply yank the ends of the blankets together, tie a big knot at the top, and take off running in the other direction.  That probably tells you everything you need to know about the provenance of the goods.

Trafficking in counterfeit goods is illegal in the United States, too, and from time to time, the federal government indicts people who do a lot of it.  For example ten people in the eastern district of california have been indicted for trafficking in counterfeit goods, and one has been indicted for structuring.  According to the USAO out there, “the defendants sold a volume of the defendants sold a volume of counterfeited merchandise, including counterfeited bags, wallets, jewelry, watches, clothing, as well as trademarked emblems, labels, and badges, and also UL power strips at the Galt Flea Market.”  (Link.)  The  bags and jewelry are to be expected, but the power strips are kinda surprising.

In any event, trafficking in counterfeit goods is a pretty serious federal crime, prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. § 2320.  First offenses can be punished by up to ten years in prison, a two million dollar fine, or both.  Subsequent convictions can be punished by up to twenty years in prison, a fifteen million dollar fine or both.  Of course, the sentencing guidelines control just what sentence a defendant will receive after conviction.