A father and son have been indicted for allegedly importing counterfeit sports jerseys from China and reselling them online and throughout the Philadelphia area.
Prosecutors said Neil Robinson, 62, of Bensalem, and Shawn Robinson, 30, of Enola, took orders for baseball, football, hockey and basketball jerseys through online auction sites between August 2007 and this past July.
Each piece of illicit apparel was stamped with the counterfeit trademark or emblem of the corresponding professional sports league, according to the indictment filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The Robinsons allegedly instructed unauthorized manufacturers in China to make the jerseys, at times notifying the vendors of changes to teams' rosters and sending them photographs of authentic jerseys to help guide their accuracy.
On one occasion in July 2010, Neil Robinson emailed a manufacturer to advise that Roy Oswalt was being traded from the Houston Astros to the Phillies, according to the indictment. "Also, Phillies new player Domonic Brown #9 was a hit," he allegedly wrote. "Hope you started production. I will need ASAP."
In December of the same year, Shawn Robinson allegedly sent an email to a manufacturer in China stating Cliff Lee had returned to the Phillies and asking how fast #33 jerseys could be made.
"Make sure the factory takes their time, though," Shawn Robinson allegedly wrote. "People are starting to complain about some of the quality of the jerseys. Some crooked letters / numbers and buttons are coming off."
Prosecutors said Shawn Robinson also emailed an EBay representative after the online auction site suspended his account and instructed him to take a tutorial on intellectual property, allegedly writing, "so I did and I learned a lot about trademark violations."
In September 2011, in response to a customer's query about why he hadn't been selling jerseys at a local flea market, Neil Robinson allegedly wrote in an email that federal authorities had confiscated vendors' jerseys two months earlier and warned them of fines and jail time. "We still sell," Neil Robinson allegedly wrote. "Just not visibly."
In total, the Robinsons are accused of importing more than 8,500 counterfeit jerseys, at a cost of more than $200,000.
Their alleged scheme was discovered July 1 of this year, after Neil Robinson met an undercover officer at a school in Bensalem and sold the officer three counterfeit MLB sports jerseys, the indictment states.
Both men are charged with conspiracy to traffic in and illegally import counterfeit goods, as well as trafficking in counterfeit goods.
Neil Robinson, who is also charged with additional counts of smuggling, faces a maximum possible penalty of 175 years in prison and a $15.5 million fine, if convicted. Shawn Robinson faces up to 15 years in prison and a $2.25 million fine, prosecutors said.