Defendants 'imported fake Apple, Sony products into US'

Apple logoFour people have been arraigned on charges of smuggling $15m-worth of fake Sony Camcorders and Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods into the US.

Venezuelan Andreina Becerra (30), Chinese national Jianhua Li (40) and two Italians - Roberto Volpe (33) and Rosario La Marca (52) - are accused of infringing Apple and Sony trademarks as well as "as well as "smuggling, structuring and international money laundering," according to the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

The charges maintain that the group conspired to smuggle more than 40,000 electronic devices and accessories, along with labels and packaging, from China to the US between July 2009 and February 2014. The devices often were shipped separately from the labels bearing counterfeit trademarks, and then were labelled and packaged after they passed through US customs.

Proceeds from the sales of the devices were funnelled back to the defendants' accounts in Florida and New Jersey - in multiple deposits of less than $10,000 each to avoid bank reporting requirements - with a portion of the proceeds then transferred to co-conspirators in Italy, says the indictment.

The DoJ also alleges that the defendants made more than 100 illegal wire transfers totalling over $1.1m to Li's Hong Kong accounts to "facilitate their criminal activity."

The accused have entered 'not guilty' pleas in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark, according to local press reports. Release bonds of $200,000 each were set for Li, Becerra and Volpe, while La Marca was remanded without bail.

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