Va. Man Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Counterfeit GM Diagnostic Equipment
WASHINGTON -- A Virginia man on Sept. 26 pleaded guilty in federal court to selling counterfeit General Motors automotive diagnostic devices used by mechanics to identify vehicle safety issues, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.
In U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia, Justin DeMatteo of Saxe, Va., pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in goods bearing counterfeit marks. DeMatteo, in a plea agreement with the government, also agreed to pay restitution of $328,500 (the full amount of GM’s losses) and forfeit $109,074 and related property and contraband seized during the execution of search warrants at his business and home on Dec. 15, 2011. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 11, 2013.
In court documents, DeMatteo admitted he sold counterfeit GM Corp.-branded “Tech 2” vehicle diagnostic systems between January and May 2011. The Tech 2 is a hand-held computer used to diagnose problems in vehicles that use electronic controls and interfaces. For newer vehicles, GM designed a new diagnostic interface – the Controller Area Network diagnostic interface (CANdi) module -- that serves as an enhancement to the Tech 2 and completes the interface necessary to communicate with future on-board computer systems.
DeMatteo also admitted he offered for sale purported Tech 2 units and CANdi modules that bore counterfeit GM marks. DeMatteo sold the counterfeit Tech 2 units on eBay and accepted payment via Paypal. DeMatteo purchased the units from unauthorized manufacturers in China. In many cases, he had the units drop-shipped directly from China to U.S. customers.
On Dec. 15, 2011, federal agents executed search warrants at DeMatteo’s residence in Saxe and place of business in South Boston, Va. Agents seized numerous counterfeit GM Tech 2 units and CANdi modules, along with computer equipment and documents that contained evidence linking DeMatteo to the sale of the counterfeit Tech 2 units.
The number of Tech 2 and CANdi units sold by DeMatteo or seized during the searches totaled nearly 100. The retail price of 100 authentic products would have been more than $380,000.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Kelly of the Eastern District of Virginia and trial attorney Evan Williams of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. The FBI’s Intellectual Property Rights Unit investigated the case.