Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- A U.S. immigrant from China was sentenced to 37 months in prison for trafficking in more than a million counterfeit Trojan condoms.
Jian “Jimmy” Wang was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan in Brooklyn, New York. Condoms tested from the same batch as Wang’s were found to burst, leak and lack spermicide, prosecutors said. The brands seized were Trojan Magnum, Trojan-ENZ, Trojan Ultra Ribbed and Trojan Mint Tingle, according to court papers.
“This defendant rather callously, in exchange for money, was willing to put a lot of people at high risk” for serious diseases such as HIV, the retrovirus that causes AIDS, Cogan said.
Wang, 44, is one of seven defendants charged in a six-year illegal operation that specialized in counterfeit goods, according to prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch in Brooklyn. The condoms were imported from China by ZX Trading Corp., a sham company in Queens, New York, used by the ring to evade U.S. customs officials, prosecutors said.
Wang pleaded guilty on Nov. 17 to trafficking in counterfeit goods. He is the first defendant in the case to be sentenced. All pleaded guilty except Jian Zhong Hu, also known as Andy, who remains a fugitive in China.
Cogan banned Wang from employment in the import-export business. The judge ordered him to surrender for prison Oct. 8.
“I have not fulfilled my responsibilities as a father to my two children, and that’s something that makes me lose face and feel humiliated,” Wang told the judge through an interpreter before being sentenced.
Attorneys for Church & Dwight Co., the maker of Trojan condoms, and law-enforcement authorities found 1.4 million of the counterfeit items at a warehouse where Wang rented space and in the basement of his Dollar 99 Cent Mart, both in Hicksville, New York, according to a lawsuit brought by the Princeton, New Jersey-based company.
Church & Dwight cooperated with the government in its investigation and conducted a separate probe that resulted in the seizure of more than 4.3 million fake condoms, the company said in court papers.
“To the best of our knowledge, the counterfeit condoms are no longer available for sale,” Geoffrey Potter, a lawyer for Church & Dwight at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP in New York, told the judge today. “We have not for a very long time received any reports or consumer complaints about counterfeit condoms nor have we found any on store shelves. But there is still a need to deter and to punish.”
Wang, who came to the U.S. in 1996 and became a citizen in 2004, sold condoms to wholesalers in addition to retail customers out of his store, according to court papers. Wang’s pre-sentencing report put the total value of his infringement at $2.35 million.
Wang’s lawyer, Glenn A. Obedin of Central Islip, New York, sought probation for his client. Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles P. Kelly argued a prison sentence would help discourage the importation of “defective health devices from China.” The guideline range in the plea agreement was 30 to 37 months.
“We’re disappointed that Mr. Wang was given that length of incarceration while we do understand that there are potential health risks to consumers of this type of product,” Obedin said after the court hearing. “How much he understood that danger is up to debate.”
Jian Hu, of Queens, New York, and his sister, Lin Hu, of Temple City, California, were accused in the case of shipping counterfeit goods in containers from China to the Newark Seaport in New Jersey. The fake items included counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags, Mattel Inc. Barbie dolls, Rolex watches, Marvel comic books and Nascar hats, prosecutors said in court papers.
Jian Hu and Lin Hu pleaded guilty in April to trafficking in counterfeit goods. They were to be sentenced June 18. Cogan, the judge, postponed the sentencing so he could hold a hearing in September on how involved the two were in dealing in condoms.
Both defendants, siblings of Andy Hu and, according to prosecutors, co-owners of ZX Trading, denied selling fake Trojan condoms. No condoms were found in their clients’ warehouses, their lawyers said in court papers. The Hus didn’t supervise the operation and were only following their older brother’s directions, they said in court papers.
Cogan in December awarded Church & Dwight $92.3 million in damages against 36 defendants named in the 2007 lawsuit that targeted counterfeiters, including $6 million against Wang.
The case is U.S. v. Wang, 08-CR-425, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).
To contact the reporter on this story: Thom Weidlich in Brooklyn, New York, federal court at email@example.com.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at firstname.lastname@example.org.