Source: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – After a recent multiagency intellectual property rights investigation resulted in federal convictions of two Rhode Island men on counterfeit goods trafficking charges and the seizure of more than $500,000 worth of counterfeit goods, special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Providence went on to coordinate an extraordinary effort that brought about the donation of half of the seized items to a non-governmental organization for use in humanitarian relief efforts.
The leaders of the counterfeit scheme, Stephen Russell and Robert Brown, both of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, were convicted in February and March of this year of trafficking in counterfeit goods charges in Rhode Island federal court; final sentencing in the case is set for January 2019.
Following the culmination of the investigation that shut down the counterfeit enterprise and ended in the successful prosecution of its leaders, HSI Providence Resident Agent in Charge Brendan Cullen his HSI personnel spearheaded an extraordinary effort to allow for the re-purposing and donation of half of the seized items to World Vision, an internationally-recognized humanitarian relief organization that brings aid and comfort to thousands of people in dire need worldwide.
Working closely with ICE’s Intellectual Property Rights Center, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Fines Penalties & Forfeitures division, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and with private sector partners, Cullen and his team worked tirelessly to ensure all required steps were done to allow for the transfer. After the removal of all counterfeit labels, Cullen and the team worked to help get approval from trademark holders, to have all items tested for non-flammability, and then arranged for delivery to World Vision liaisons, who expressed deep gratitude for the gifted items.
“This really was a win-win case” said Cullen. “Not only did the HSI and our local counterparts break this criminal counterfeit scheme, but we were able, with the hard work of our great partners and World Vision, to turn the spoils of this criminal enterprise into something that will bring a little light into the lives of people in need.”
In all, more than 1,500 clothing and footwear items out of approximately 3,000 items seized in the investigation were donated to the international humanitarian relief and development non-governmental organization.