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Monsey Man Gets 37 Months In Counterfeit Electronics Smuggling Scheme

The group smuggled more than 40,000 electronic knockoffs -- worth more than $15 million if they'd been genuine -- from China into the U.S., federal authorities said.
The group smuggled more than 40,000 electronic knockoffs -- worth more than $15 million if they'd been genuine -- from China into the U.S., federal authorities said. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

MONSEY, N.J. -- An Italian national living in Monsey was sentenced Friday to 37 months in federal prison for smuggling counterfeit iPhones, camcorders and other electronics into the U.S. from China.

Rosario La Marca, 54, and a married couple pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Newark in February to smuggling the goods, among other counts.

LaMarca was named in an April 2015 federal indictment along with Roberto Volpe, 34, who's also an Italian national; Volpe's wife, Andreina Becerra, 31, a Venezuelan national; and Jianhua Li, 42, a Chinese national.

The indictment charged them with importing and trafficking fake iPhones, iPads and iPods bearing counterfeit Apple trademarks, and fake camcorders bearing counterfeit Sony trademarks, as well as with smuggling, structuring and international money laundering.

As part of their plea agreements, Volpe and Becerra agreed to forfeit their interest in 10 bank accounts, three Florida condominiums, and $167,000 in cash.

La Marca, meanwhile, agreed to forfeit funds in a corporate bank account.

The group smuggled more than 40,000 electronic knockoffs -- worth more than $15 million if they'd been genuine -- from China into the U.S., federal authorities said.

The devices were shipped separately from the labels bearing counterfeit trademarks in order to avoid detection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, they said.

The devices were then labeled and packaged after they passed through Customs, then re-shipped to conspirators throughout the U.S.

Proceeds were funneled back into the defendants' accounts in Florida and New Jersey via structured cash deposits – broken into several deposits of less than $10,000 each to avoid bank reporting requirements, federal prosecutors said.

A portion of the proceeds was then transferred to conspirators in Italy to launder it, they said.

The group made more than 100 illegal wire transfers totaling more than $1.1 million to Hong Kong, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark.

Sentencing for Volpe and Becerra is scheduled for Sept. 7. Li, meanwhile, is fighting the charges.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty sentenced La Marca to one year of supervised release.

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, Acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick said.

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