PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A New York City man pleaded guilty Thursday to his role in a scheme that sold $20 million worth of counterfeit Chinese-made clothing and uniforms to the U.S. military and government in violation of federal law.
Ramin Kohanbash, 49, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and trafficking in counterfeit goods, the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island, Aaron Weisman, announced.
Kohanbash and others had phony reproductions made in China that were then distributed to suppliers that sold them to the U.S. government as American-made products, authorities say.
DoD bought phony military gear made in China, including counter-night vision clothing that didn’t actually work
The counterfeits included clothing that used a near-infrared fabric to make the wearer more difficult for enemy forces to detect with night-vision goggles.
The clothing included phony brand name labels and tags that falsely represented the clothing’s abilities in a way that could have harmed the users.
That included hoods intended for military and law enforcement personnel labeled as "permanently flame resistant" when they were not flame resistant, and military parkas falsely represented as being made of a fabric that made them difficult to detect with night vision goggles.
The parkas are worn by Air Force personnel stationed in Afghanistan, Weisman said.
"The uniforms they wear and the gear they carry are meant to protect them as they carry out their mission, not to put them in harm's way," Weisman said in a statement. "This case should serve notice that suppliers who do business with the military must comply with the law, or they will be held to account."
The Berry Amendment requires that uniforms and gear sold to the Defense Department must be produced in the United States. The goods were shipped from China to Kohanbash and then sold to other wholesalers who ultimately marketed and sold them to military and government buyers as genuine, American-made products, Weisman added.
Kohanbash faces 15 years at prison at sentencing Jan. 17. His attorneys did not immediately return messages seeking comment.