A Westminster father and son are accused of money laundering and conspiracy charges connected to the sale of counterfeit iPhones and other electronic goods valued at nearly $3 million.
Rateb Said Najjar, 60, and his son Eyad Rateb Najjar, are charged with more than 100 felonies that could send each to prison for 104 years if convicted.
Amir Ali Shaerzadeh, 36, of Irvine, faces the same counts and punishment, but he is a fugitive with an outstanding arrest warrant.
Between January 2010 and December 2011, the Najjars owned and operated businesses in Fountain Valley that sold counterfeit merchandise imported from Hong Kong and China, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).
The pair allegedly conspired to import and distribute counterfeit trademark items, possess counterfeit trademark items offered for sale and engage in money laundering conspiracy involving numerous registered trademarks including Apple, Nokia, Blackberry, Ferrari, Nintendo, and Google, the OCDA claims.
All tolled, the pair laundered more than $5 million and possessed counterfeit merchandise–including cell phones, tablet computers, portable media players, and game consoles–with a retail value of more than $2.8 million, the OCDA says.
The investigation against them–by the Fountain Valley Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security–began in November 2011 after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted a shipment of tablets that were found to contain counterfeit software, the OCDA says.
Investigators seized “a significant volume” of counterfeit merchandise from various businesses tied to the father and son, more than $500,000 in cash inside a safe and funds seized from multiple bank accounts, prosecutors say.
Eyad Najjar was arrested Dec. 10 and Rateb Najjar surrendered himself to the court on Dec. 17. They made their $750,000 bail and were arraigned in Westminster on Friday, when they faced 134 felony counts of money laundering; six felony counts of manufacturing and sale of a counterfeit mark; two felony counts of conspiracy to commit a crime with sentencing enhancements for property damage over $1.3 million; and money laundering in excess of $2.5 million.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.