PHILADELPHIA - An alternative rock band that financed its travels by selling counterfeit high-end guitars has been ordered to pay $56,000 in restitution to more than 50 "unsuspecting" pawn shops, said federal prosecutors in Philadelphia today.
Members of the Josh Davis Band bought 165 cheap acoustic guitars between January 2008 and October 2011. Using computer graphics, etching equipment, and a laser printer they created fake logos they affixed to the headstocks and labels they glued to the interior bracing of the instruments.
Talk about a nice little racket. The band counterfeited only the best-known and highly regarded brands. The logos the band re-created were indistinguishable from the genuine marks, federal prosecutors said. Though the band occasionally sold bogus Guild and Gibson guitars, the overwhelming majority of the fakes were re-labeled "C.F. Martin & Co.," prosecutors said. The least expensive Martin guitars, which are crafted in Nazareth, Pa., sell for a list price of about $1,000. Custom and vintage models can fetch $50,000 or more.
As they toured the country, band members approached "unsuspecting pawn shops" in 18 states which bought the guitars for an average of $340, prosecutors said. The band was careful not to strike a pawn shop twice, keeping a detailed list of stores they had previously hit.
The gig was up when victimized pawn shop owners realized they'd been stung and reached out to the FBI. All four band members pleaded guilty in federal court for their roles in the scheme, according to prosecutors.
Randy Gray, 27, of Fort Worth, TX, was the last to be sentenced in the scam today. In addition to one day in jail and three years of supervised release, Gray was ordered to pay $7,617 in restitution. Josh Davis, 39, of Galveston, TX, was ordered on Jan. 15 to pay $22,050 in restitution and serve six months of home confinement. Drummer Bruce Alford, 41, also of Fort Worth, was ordered on Dec. 5 to pay $8,700 in restitution. Romeo Rondeau, also of Fort Worth, was ordered on Nov. 7 to pay $7,130 restitution and serve six months of home confinement.