NEW YORK–Following a joint investigation by the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Department of Commerce, three individuals were charged today with selling counterfeit auto replacement parts.
Shashi Malhotra, 67, of Norwood, N.J., Fadi Kilani, 28, of Englewood, N.J., and Richard Dininni, 57, of Easton, Pa., were arrested at their homes.
New automobiles sold to consumers are equipped with parts that are manufactured or provided by the automobile’s manufacturer – the original equipment manufacturer (OME). When a consumer needs to replace a part, he or she can purchase either parts made by OEMs which are sold under the OEMs’ brand names, or generic parts made by other manufacturers that are commonly referred to as “aftermarket” parts. Generic parts are regularly bought and sold lawfully as aftermarket parts, typically at lower prices than OEM parts. Many types of aftermarket parts – including those sold and falsely packaged as OEM parts by Malhotra, Kilani and Dininni – do not have to meet independent federal safety standards.
The investigation revealed from October 2011 through February 2013, Malhotra, who operated Worldwide Auto Parts and a Japanese Auto Repair centre, and Manufacturing in Paterson, N.J., and Kilani, who operated Cypros Trading and Shipping in Paterson, conspired to sell counterfeit OEM parts. The defendants and their co-conspirators deceptively packaged aftermarket automotive parts – including brakes, brake pads, brake shoes, ignition coils, water pumps, window regulators, suspension sway bar links, wheel hubs, anti-lock braking sensors, control arm bushings, transmission filters, pitman arms, tie rod ends and suspension air springs – to falsely make it appear as though these parts had been manufactured by OEMs such as Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Federal Mogul.
They sold these parts to individuals and entities that they understood would re-sell to the general public and automotive repair shops, including repair shops that service New York City’s taxis and limousines, which are subject to separate and regularly scheduled safety testing by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. Malhotra obtained some of these counterfeit parts from China and Kilani exported some of the counterfeit parts to Saudi Arabia.
Dininni, from November 2011 through June 2012, operated Professional Parts USA in Easton, conspired to sell counterfeit OEM parts. Along with his co-conspirators, Dininni also deceptively packaged certain aftermarket automotive parts, including brake pads and water pumps to falsely make it appear as though these parts had been manufactured by OEMs. Dininni and his co-conspirators then sold these parts to individuals and entities that they understood would re-sell them to the general public and to certain automotive repair shops.
Malhotra, Kilani and Dininni each face a maximum of 15 years in prison on the charges of trafficking in counterfeit goods and conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods.