PHOTO: Counterfeit merchandise was allegedly unloaded at this Flushing self-storage facility. Photo Courtesy of Google
By Forum Staff
Four borough residents have been charged with trademark counterfeiting following the seizure of counterfeit Apple electronic goods that had recently arrived from China with an estimated street value of more than $200,000, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, and Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in New York, who made the announcement last Thursday.
Min Jian Hu, 28, and Jonathan Zhou, 23, both of Fresh Meadows; and Dahun Wie, 21, and Huanchao Li, both of Oakland Gardens were arraigned last Wednseday evening on a charge of first-degree trademark counterfeiting. All four were released on their own recognizance and ordered to return to court on May 3. In the case of Hu, Judge Gia Morris ordered him to surrender his passport.
According to the criminal charges, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent on Feb. 28, 2016, inspected a package addressed to Hu, and which allegedly was found to contain 850 “Powerbeats” headphone boxes; 1,500 “Beats By Dre” and “Beats Pill” stereo boxes; and 300 logo caps, all of which were deemed counterfeit.
It is additionally alleged that an undercover NYPD detective met Wie in Queens earlier this month and was sold what were purported to be 10 Beats By Dre earbuds, five Beats By Dre speakers and five Beats By Dre headphones, which Wie had retrieved from a grey Toyota minivan. The undercover detective allegedly paid a total of $420 for the items, which were later deemed to be counterfeit, and made payment to a PayPal account listed as belonging to Hu. Four days later, the undercover detective again met Wie and this time was allegedly sold what were purported to be 10 Beats pill speakers, 10 mini-Beats pill speakers, and two Apple watches. The undercover officer allegedly paid $160 to a PayPal account listed as belonging to Hu, and $180 in cash to Wie.
It is further alleged that on the afternoon of March 9, members of the NYPD, Customs and Border Protection and Allegiance Protection Group, a private investigations and security firm which investigates counterfeiting on behalf of such clients as Apple, conducted a partial inspection of a shipping container at the Port Newark Container Terminal in Newark, N.J., which was addressed to Hu. The container allegedly contained numerous boxes containing counterfeit Apple watches bearing the Apple trademark and generic headphones, earbuds and speakers. On March 15, the container was delivered to the loading dock of CubeSmart, a self-storage facility located in Flushing. It is alleged that eight individuals, including the four defendants, unloaded the merchandise from the container into a CubeSmart storage bin and into a grey Toyota Sienna and the grey Toyota Sienna driven by Wie.
Four court-authorized search warrants were executed later that day at CubeSmart’s loading area. Among the items allegedly recovered from the shipping container were 4,250 generic speakers, 4,320 generic headphones and purportedly 339 Apple watches. Additionally, a total of 18 boxes containing 604 generic speakers were allegedly seized from the burgundy and grey Toyota Sienna vehicles and five boxes of generic speakers were allegedly seized from the storage bin. The generic speakers and headphones were all approximately the same size and shape of various versions of Beats Pill speakers and Beats headphones, and the items recovered from the container, bin and two vehicles had an estimated street value of more than $200,000.
A fifth court-authorized search warrant was executed at Hu’s 168th Street residence. Allegedly recovered from the backyard and garage were what had purported to be 2,851 assorted Beats headphones, 1,070 assorted Beats Pill Speaks, 27 Apple watches, 458 Beats earbud cases, 4,000 Beats plastic logo caps and 4,050 assorted Beats By Dre headphone boxes.
Hu and Zhou both allegedly confessed to their roles in the counterfeit scheme.
If convicted, each faces up to 15 years in prison.