Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Three Men Charged in Auto-Parts Scam

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Three Men Charged in Auto-Parts Scam

Article excerpt

Federal agents on Tuesday conducted raids across three states, including at two companies in Paterson, to break up what they described as a conspiracy to sell generic automobile parts disguised as Ford and GM products to New York City taxi companies.

Two Bergen County men and a man in Pennsylvania were charged in an indictment Tuesday with selling the counterfeit automobile parts, said Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Sasha Malhotra, 67, of Norwood and Fadi Kilani, 28, of Englewood pleaded not guilty in their federal court arraignment in Manhattan on Tuesday evening. Each was charged with one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods. The charges carry maximum sentences of five years and 10 years in prison, respectively.

The third defendant, Richard Dininni, 57, of Easton, Pa., faced the same charges in federal court in Pennsylvania.

The men were arrested at their homes as FBI agents simultaneously raided warehouses in Paterson and the Astoria section of Queens, said Kelly Langmesser, a spokeswoman for the FBI.

"While it is not generally against the law to sell replicas or imitations, it is illegal to try to pass them off as authentic or original," said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos.

Malhotra operates Worldwide Auto Parts and S&S International Products and Manufacturing at 250 E. 17th St. in Paterson. Kilani operates Cypros Trading and Shipping at 94 Fulton St., also in Paterson.

"These defendants sold the automobile replacement parts' equivalent of designer knockoffs but represented to their unsuspecting customers that they were buying the 'name brand,' " Bharara said. "And while their replacement parts may have been no different from many other generic parts sold every day in the aftermarket, they were able to command the same higher prices charged by the automobile manufacturers whose names they stole."

Kilani's attorney, James M. …

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