Sellers of fake NFL shirts get probation
Three individuals who sold counterfeit Pro Bowl shirts during the National Football League's 2005 all-star game were placed on five years' probation yesterday, with one of them sentenced to 90 days in jail.
Circuit Court Judge Dexter Del Rosario denied requests by Glenn Marziotto of Florida and Brendan Alan Schiff and Melissa Lieberman, both of California, to defer their guilty pleas, saying this was not the first time they had been involved in such conduct. He ordered them to each pay a $2,000 fine.
All three had pleaded guilty in September to one count each of trademark counterfeiting, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Defense attorney Guy Matsunaga had argued against jail, describing the three as "pawns" in a bigger operation that paid their plane tickets to come to Hawaii and sell the products. He said they did not intend to "rip off consumers" and did not realize how serious their conduct was until now.
"They viewed this really simplistically: 'We're selling T-shirts,'" Matsunaga said.
Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter opposed deferrals and asked that each be sentenced to probation with a period of incarceration because they had a history of engaging in this activity.
Marziotto, 49, had a 1987 federal conviction for selling fake New York Mets merchandise at the World Series the year before. He also has racked up other convictions in other states involving counterfeit merchandise, Van Marter said. The NFL noted that Marziotto had been spotted in Jacksonville at the Super Bowl the same week he was arrested at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
Lieberman paid a $150 fine for a 1998 conviction in Florida involving counterfeit goods. Also in November 2003, an investigative firm hired by the NFL spotted Lieberman selling counterfeit USC merchandise in Los Angeles, and he was served with a federal seizure order, according to the NFL.
While Schiff, 37, has no prior convictions, he was spotted by investigators at the 2003 Pro Bowl selling fake merchandise and was warned to stop, but he returned again in 2004, Van Marter said.
"Each of these defendants were profiting off of the good name of the NFL and at the expense of the NFL," Van Marter said.
Marziotto defended his conduct, noting he was forced to work at an early age to help support his family but now knows it was wrong.