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Leader of fake US military clothing scheme gets prison time

October 14, 2022 Associated Press
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A New York City man who ran a scheme that sold $20 million worth of substandard counterfeit Chinese-made clothing and gear to the U.S. military — potentially putting active-duty service members in danger — has been sentenced to more than three years in prison, federal prosecutors said.

Ramin Kohanbash, 52, was one of three people who played a role in the scam in which samples of genuine military apparel, including labels that depicted trademarks of 15 companies that make products for the U.S. military, were provided to manufacturers in China, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Providence.

The Chinese manufacturers counterfeited the clothes, which were shipped to Kohanbash for distribution to suppliers that sold them to the U.S. government as American-made, authorities said. U.S. law requires that uniforms and gear sold to the Defense Department be produced in the United States or certain other designated countries. China is not among them.

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“American servicemen and women risk their lives every day in defense of the nation,” said U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island Zachary Cunha. “But the risks they face should never come from the uniforms they wear, and the equipment they carry. In this case, defendants’ actions did exactly that, substituting substandard, foreign-made knockoffs for American products.”

Some gear lacked crucial safety features or failed to meet safety specifications, prosecutors said. That included more than 13,000 counterfeit jackets that were supposed to be made of a fabric that made them difficult to detect with night vision goggles, but were not; and more than 18,000 hoods falsely labeled as being flame resistant, authorities said.

“Supplying counterfeit products to the DoD endangers the lives of American service members and betrays the public’s trust,” said Patrick J. Hegarty, Special Agent in Charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s Northeast Field Office.

Kohanbash pleaded guilty in 2019 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and trafficking in counterfeit goods.

Kohanbash, of Brooklyn, in addition to a prison term of three years and four months, was also ordered in U.S. District Court in Providence on Wednesday to pay restitution to U.S. companies, including a Rhode Island company that reported a loss of more than $639,000 in profits.

Two other men involved in the scheme have also pleaded guilty. Bernard Klein, 41, of Brooklyn, was sentenced in April 2021 to 18 months in prison. Terry Roe, 49, of Burlington, North Dakota, pleaded guilty in February and faces sentencing this month.

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