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Warwick Man Sentenced to Four Years for Selling Counterfeit NFL, Nike Jerseys, Medicines

The US Department of Justice has announced the sentencing of Norman Cipriano, 41, of Warwick, R.I. to 50 months in prison for trafficking more than $1 million in counterfeit sports apparel, medications and health products.

Warwick, RI – A Warwick man has been sentenced to 50 months in federal prison for trafficking more than $1 million in counterfeit NFL and Nike apparel, as well as medications and beauty products, discovered during a routine customs check in Anchorage, AK in 2012.

Norman Cipriano, 41, of Warwick, pled guilty on Aug. 5, 2013, to trafficking in counterfeit goods and services. In addition to the more than four-year prison term, U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith also ordered Cipriano to serve three years of supervised release upon completion of his prison time. The amount of restitution to various companies affected will be determined at a later date, according to a release from United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha.

“The distribution of counterfeit medications, both over-the-counter, as in this case, and prescription narcotics, as in other cases we have seen, present an obvious health and safety threat.  Trafficking in other counterfeit goods, such as apparel and other consumer products, may seem more innocuous, but nevertheless demands the same aggressive attention from law enforcement.  Such criminal misconduct causes irreparable economic harm to the companies that make the real article, including such companies’ ability to maintain and create jobs for every-day Americans,” Neronha said.

According to a release from Neronha’s office, HSI agents in Rhode Island were notified that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in Anchorage, AK, conducted a routine border search of a package arriving from the People’s Republic of China addressed to Cipriano and his Warwick home. The shipment was manifested as “Man Coats.” An examination of the contents revealed sports jerseys affixed with NFL Football and Nike trademarked logos. CBP agents suspected that the display of trademarks was unauthorized.

CBP agents shipped the package to HSI agents in Rhode Island who conducted a controlled delivery of the merchandise to Cipriano’s residence on Aug. 23, 2012, with the assistance of the HSI Boston Gangs/Commercial Fraud Unit and Warwick Police.

Simultaneously, working with HSI agents from Boston who had already begun an investigation into Cipriano’s alleged import and sale of counterfeit merchandise at a flea market in Raynham, Mass., continued the investigation, which included multiple visits and surveillance of Cipriano’s activities at the flea market and at his home.

On Sept. 19, 2012, HSI agents from Rhode Island and Boston, assisted by agents and officers from the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Warwick Police Department, executed a court authorized search of Cipriano’s home and two vehicles used to transport the counterfeit goods. The agents seized nearly 5,000 counterfeit sports jerseys, apparel and accessories, and health and beauty aids – including a significant quantity of counterfeit over-the-counter medications. In total, agents seized approximately 14,700 counterfeit items conservatively valued at more than $1.02 million dollars and nearly $56,000 in cash, money orders and a bank check.

The following day the government seized a bank account containing more than $76,000 which belonged to Cipriano.

Queries of CBP data bases disclosed that between September 2009 and June 2012 CBP agents made numerous seizures of counterfeit goods imported into the United States earmarked for shipment to Cipriano’s home. After each seizure, notices were sent to Cipriano providing him the opportunity to contest the actions. None were contested.

In October 2012, as a result of his arrest by federal agents for this crime, Cipriano was found to be a probation violator on a 2005 conviction in Rhode Island state court for conspiracy and receiving stolen property. Cipriano served 22 months in state prison on the violation while this matter was pending in federal court.

“I am grateful for the vigilance of the Customs and Border Protection agents in Alaska who first recognized the defendant’s attempt to bring counterfeit and illegitimate items to our shores.  HSI agents in Rhode Island, working with Warwick Police Detectives and Officers and other federal, state and local law enforcement officials, took it from there, building a strong case that ultimately led to today’s entirely appropriate sentence,” Neronha said.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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