BOSTON, Mass. (WGGB) – A Chicopee man who ran several local sports shops and is now facing federal charges of allegedly selling counterfeit sports merchandise has agreed to plead guilty, according to court records.
51-year-old James Dent has been charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods.
The agreement, which was submitted to U.S. District Court in Springfield, was signed by Deputy Chief of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division James Herbert, Dent, and Dent’s attorney, John Pucci.
Prosecutors allege that Dent sold counterfeit sports apparel between 2007 and 2012 from the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Basketball Association at stores he owned in central and western Massachusetts.
Among the store in western Mass. included SportsZone at the Holyoke Mall, and Collectibles and Cards at the Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Hampshire Mall in Hadley and the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough.
Federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted raids and executed search warrants on Dent’s stores in what the agency called “an ongoing investigation regarding intellectual property theft.”
In the agreement, Dent and his lawyer have agreed to terms where Dent will waive indictment and plead guilty to the charges.
The document states, “Defendant expressly and unequivocally admits that he committed the crimes charged in the information, did so knowingly and intentionally, and is in fact guilty of these offenses.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges in court papers that Dent purchased the counterfeit apparel from companies in China and that he “mixed counterfeit and genuine apparel together in his store, and sold the items for substantially the same price, in an attempt to deceive the customers into believing that the counterfeit apparel was genuine.”
Just a month before, during a story on Super Bowl merchandise, Dent told ABC40 that it would be hard for customers to tell the difference between real and fake merchandise and that cheaper merchandise would typically cost more than the real products.
The sentencing recommendation that all parties agreed to includes some jail time at or below sentencing guidelines, a $6,000 fine, $37,475.21 in restitution, “a forfeiture or money judgement…of $200,000″ and 36 months of supervised release.
The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition says that counterfeit merchandise costs companies $500 billion each year.
The plea agreement is subject to approval by the court and Judge Michael Ponsor. A plea hearing is scheduled for May 8.