Virginia man sentenced for selling counterfeit GM equipment

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Local,Virginia,Crime,Naomi Jagoda

A Virginia man has been sentenced to one year and one day behind bars for selling counterfeit General Motors diagnostic equipment that mechanics use to identify problems in motor vehicles.

Justin DeMatteo, 31, received more than $100,000 from sales of the inauthentic goods. Nearly 100 counterfeit GM items were sold by or seized from the defendant, prosecutors said, and the retail price of that number of authentic products would have been almost $400,000.

The counterfeit equipment that DeMatteo sold between January and May of 2011 appeared to be GM-brand, hand-held computers that are used to diagnose problems with vehicles, as well as enhancements to the diagnostic systems that are used for newer vehicles, according to court documents.

DeMatteo sold the counterfeit goods on eBay, and customers would pay him via PayPal. He obtained the fake GM equipment from unauthorized manufacturers in China and told customers that the goods would be shipped from the manufacturer.

When federal agents searched DeMatteo's home and business in southern Virginia, they seized numerous pieces of counterfeit GM goods and other evidence that linked him to the sales, prosecutors said.

According to a court document filed by the defense, DeMatteo -- a married father of two who lived in a trailer -- engaged in the illegal conduct in order to support his family.

"I think it's a fair sentence," the defendant's lawyer, Todd Stone, told The Washington Examiner.

Prosecutors contended that the counterfeit merchandise DeMatteo sold posed health and safety risks because drivers and mechanics relied on the accuracy of the devices' diagnoses.

"Intellectual property theft is a crime which hurts U.S. businesses and endangers U.S. consumers," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

DeMatteo was sentenced Friday in federal court in Alexandria and pleaded guilty in September to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods. In addition to prison time, DeMatteo has to pay restitution of $328,500.

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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