The last of three people accused of selling counterfeit T-shirts, caps and other items in several Black Hills area stores has pleaded guilty to violating federal trademark laws.
Federal authorizes arrested Nir Giist, 54, of Florida, and Ravaye Meltzer, 34, and Bar Braver, 28, both of Rapid City, for trafficking in counterfeit merchandise in December 2011.
Braver and Meltzer pleaded guilty to trafficking in stolen merchandise last summer in federal court in Rapid City. Giist entered his guilty plea last week.
Meltzer and Braver operated Jumbo Trading, LLC, and ran Sturgis Black Hills Rally S.D., LLC, with Giist, according to federal court documents. The two corporations owned or leased 10 stores in Keystone, Hill City, Deadwood, Sturgis and Rapid City.
The stores sold legitimate and counterfeit merchandise, authorities said. Counterfeit items carried the marks of Monster Energy, The North Face, American Eagle, Ed Hardy, Hollister and Angry Birds, all valid and registered trademarks held by others.
The trio admitted to deliberately deceiving customers with the illegal marks that were almost indistinguishable from registered trademarks.
According to federal authorities, the counterfeit items were marketed between Feb. 17, 2010, and Aug. 20, 2011. The first products were seized at Goldbergs on Main Street in Deadwood in August 2011. Around the same time, federal agents seized almost $277,000 from corporate bank accounts.
Giist, Meltzer and Braver each faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine. Federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend probation when Meltzer and Braver are sentenced on Feb. 22. The couple must also forfeit cash seized during the investigation, and any cash left in a remaining bank account once their legal expenses and 2011 income taxes are paid.
Giist’s sentencing is set for June. Prosecutors will recommend probation. Giist has agreed to pay the following restitution to companies whose marks were copied: Monster Energy $35,000, Rovio Entertainment (Angry Birds) $14,000, The North Face $14,000 and American Eagle $7,000.