A 28-year-old Chinese businessman was sentenced to three years and one month in federal prison Thursday after he pleaded guilty to five counts of trafficking counterfeit airbags.
Dai Zhensong pleaded guilty in August 2011, nearly a year after he entered the United States from China to sell airbags and other auto parts.
Chief U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier ruled that Zhensong also must pay $210,738 in restitution, the value of the fake airbags.
Zhensong was part owner and manager of the international department of Guangzhou Auto Parts, which made many counterfeit auto parts in China, according to court documents.
In September 2010, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents intercepted six boxes with 68 airbags made by Zhenzong's company. Postal services delivered the items to a Chattanooga address controlled by ICE agents, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.
"This case is an excellent illustration of how the manufacturing, smuggling and sale of counterfeit goods is not a victimless crime," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of the New Orleans ICE office.
Guangzhou employees would make the airbags by purchasing genuine auto airbags, tearing them down and using them to build molds for the counterfeit ones, according to the release. Factory employees would use trademark emblems from Honda, Toyota, Audi and BMW on the airbags.
The counterfeit airbags were advertised on the company's website for $57. ICE agents have seized more than 300 airbags from Guangzhou to date, according to the release.
U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said in the release that the sentence "will deter others from illegally marketing unsafe and damaged goods in our country."
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...