Texas Man Sentenced to Just Over One Year in Prison for Fraudulent Electronics Scheme

January 3, 2013

626111_35347132.jpgA federal judge in Florida sentenced a Texas man to twelve months and a day in prison for marketing and selling counterfeit circuit breakers online. Federal prosecutors charged the defendant in United States v. Toldy, Case No. 3:11-cr-00294, information (M.D. Fla., Nov. 22, 2011) with mail fraud and trafficking in counterfeit goods. They also sought the forfeiture of any assets obtained with proceeds from the alleged fraud. After the defendant pleaded guilty, the court pronounced sentence. Under federal law, certain types of forfeitures occur upon conviction.

According to the information filed in November 2011, the defendant, Elod Tamas Toldy, sold counterfeit circuit breakers and other electronic components online from around December 2008 until 2010. Prosecutors alleged that he established multiple businesses in Florida and Texas to market and sell counterfeit goods obtained from China. Toldy, the information said, traveled to China with samples of circuit breakers from several companies in order to contract with Chinese companies to manufacture various electronic parts with counterfeit brand names. He then imported the circuit breakers to the U.S., sold them online, and mailed them to purchasers. Federal investigators seized 96,000 allegedly electronic components from warehouses in Austin and Laredo, Texas, with a market value of about $4.7 million.

Prosecutors charged Toldy with mail fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1341, which prohibits, in part, use of the U.S. Postal Service in order to "obtain[] money...by means of false or fraudulent pretenses." The statute requires proof that the alleged fraudulent act was part of a scheme of defraud. The information identifies Toldy's alleged visits to China, contracts with Chinese manufacturers, and other actions as parts of "the manner and means of the scheme." Toldy, info. at 3-4. Toldy also faced a charge of trafficking in counterfeit goods under 18 U.S.C. § 2320(a)(1), which applies to the sale or distribution of goods when the person knows that the goods bear counterfeit brands or other marks. The information identified five brand names used on the goods sold by Toldy, as well as the "UL" mark indicating that a product has passed safety tests.

The two criminal charges, prosecutors alleged, also made Toldy liable for forfeiture of any real or personal property obtained with proceeds from his fraudulent transactions. Federal law allows the civil forfeiture of any property "traceable to the gross receipts obtained...from a violation of...section 1341 (relating to mail fraud)." 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(C). Upon conviction of trafficking in counterfeit goods, the court may order the forfeiture of any remaining counterfeit goods and any property obtained with proceeds of the sale of counterfeit goods as part of the penalty phase. 18 U.S.C. § 2323(b). Forfeitures authorized by statute as part of a criminal statute are generally included as part of the sentence after a conviction. 28 U.S.C. § 2461(c).

Toldy pleaded guilty to both charges in late 2011. The court sentenced him to twelve months and one day in prison in November 2012. The judge also ordered him to pay restitution of $59,653.97 to consumers who purchased counterfeit goods.

Michael J. Brown, a board-certified criminal defense attorney, fights for the rights of Texas defendants, making certain that law enforcement and the courts abide by all the rules and procedures of the criminal justice system. To learn more about how we can assist you in your legal matter, contact us online or at (432) 687-5157.

Web Resources:

Information (PDF file), Case No. 3:11-cr-00294, United States v. Toldy, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, November 22, 2011

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Photo credit: 'Circuit Breaker' by VictorBR on stock.xchng.