Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Rhode Island
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Wholesaler Charged in Conspiracy to Manufacture and Sell Counterfeit Clothing and Other Goods to US Military and Government
PROVIDENCE – A criminal information filed today in U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I., in an ongoing investigation, charges a Brooklyn, N.Y., clothing and goods wholesaler with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and trafficking in counterfeit goods in connection with the alleged sale of more than twenty million dollars worth of Chinese-made counterfeit goods to the United States military and other government purchasers, as well as to other companies that supply the U.S. Government.
It is alleged in the information that Ramin Kohanbash, 49, working with other members of the conspiracy, provided samples of actual military uniforms and gear to manufacturers in China to replicate. It is also alleged that Kohanbash and his co-conspirators provided, reviewed, and approved photographs, descriptions, and samples of tags and labels to be attached to the knockoff products, so that the counterfeit versions appeared legitimate. In many instances, this process allegedly involved copying the trademarks and brand names of actual U.S.-made products and adding them to the foreign counterfeit versions.
After being manufactured in China, it is alleged that the counterfeit goods were shipped to Kohanbash and sold to other wholesalers who ultimately marketed and sold them to military and government buyers off as genuine, American-made products.
Under two U.S. laws known as The Berry Amendment and the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”), goods sold to the military and certain other government buyers are required to be manufactured in the United States and certain other designated countries; China is not one of those countries. In order to sell the counterfeit goods, it is alleged that Kohanbash provided wholesalers who did business with the government with false certification letters claiming that the goods were made in the U.S., and therefore complied with Berry Amendment. In other instances, it is alleged that Kohanbash falsely represented that the goods met TAA requirements.
The information alleges that, among other items Kohanbash and his co-conspirators arranged to counterfeit, were military parkas used by U.S. Air Force personnel stationed in Afghanistan. These parkas are made with a fabric known as Multicam®, which incorporates specialized near-infrared (“NIR”) management technology designed to make the wearer more difficult to detect with equipment such as night-vision goggles. According to the information, two hundred of these counterfeit Multicam® parkas, lacking the critical NIR management technology, were sold to a U.S. Air Force Base Supply Center. Other items carried labels that allegedly made explicit, and false, representations about the product’s safety. In one case, labels on counterfeit hoods intended for military and law enforcement personnel stated that the items were “permanently flame resistant,” and that they met a specific industry standard for flame-resistant attire. In reality, the counterfeit hoods were not flame resistant.
The filing of an information in U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I., in this matter is announced by United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Aaron L. Weisman; Special Agent-in-Charge Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Luis A. Hernandez, General Services Administration Office of Inspector General, New England Regional Investigations Office; Resident Agent in Charge Michael D. Conner, Boston Fraud Resident Agency, US Army Criminal Investigation Command; Jason T. Hein, Special Agent in Charge, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Office of Procurement Fraud Investigation, Detachment; and Homeland Security Investigations Newark, NJ, Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Michael.
Kohanbash is scheduled to appear before United States Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan on June 12, 2019, for an initial appearance on the charges contained in the information. An information is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Conspiracy to commit wire fraud is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 5 years in federal prison, 3 years supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000; Trafficking in counterfeit goods is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 10 years in federal prison, 3 years supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sandra R. Hebert and Zachary A. Cunha.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice press release.