On Thursday, the United States Attorney in Philadelphia filed an indictment (below) charging a father and his son with illegally importing counterfeit sports jerseys from China and selling them in the United States.
62-year-old Neil Robinson of Bensalem and his 30-year-old son Shawn Robinson, who lives near Harrisburg, allegedly bought more than 8,500 counterfeit baseball, football, hockey and basketball jerseys from China between September 2007 and July 2014, providing photographs of licensed jerseys to their Chinese manufacturers to ensure that the bogus goods looked legit.
And, according to the indictment, they continued to do it even after some red flags appeared, according to the indictment in the case. In December 2007, the son had a package sealed by U.S. Customs, and in 2008, his eBay account was suspended. And according to the 2011 email sent by the father to a customer, they were busted in 2011. “The Feds came in about 2 months ago and confiscated everyone’s jerseys,” he wrote. “We still sell. Just not visibly.”
They are also said to have made specific requests of their manufacturers in China, based on trends in the market.
From July 2010 emails allegedly sent by the father: “New player to be announced shortly. Roy Oswalt being traded from Houston Astros to Phillies. Will send you his number when it is announced. Also Phillies new player Dominic Brown #9 was a hit.
And from a December 2010 email from the son’s account regarding Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee: “It official Lee is wearing #33… how fast do you [sic] they can make them. I would start with the white pinstripe 1st.”
And they didn’t want anything shoddy. “Make sure the factory takes their time though,” the son wrote. “People are starting to complain about some of the quality of the jerseys. Some crooked letters/numbers and buttons are coming off. I understand things happen but just wanted to let u know. Thanks buddy.”
Both men were charged with conspiracy to traffic in and illegally import counterfeit sports jerseys and trafficking in counterfeit goods, and the father was also charged with smuggling. He faces up to 175 years in prison and a fine of up to $15.5 million, while his son could get as much as 15 years.