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A former chief executive officer of a Vista-based electronic recycling company was sentenced Monday to 21 months in prison for trafficking in counterfeit goods.

Robert Erie, a co-founder of E-World Recyclers LLC, pleaded guilty in February, conceding that the retail value of the infringed items he trafficked in was at least $1.45 million.

The 53-year-old Carlsbad resident’s conviction relates to a contract he obtained to destroy counterfeit merchandise seized by the federal government. Instead of doing so, Erie diverted and used it for his own commercial advantage, according to prosecutors.

In late 2009, E-World entered into a contract to perform electronic recycling services related to counterfeit goods seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which sent the company roughly 1,900 pallets’ worth of the illicit merchandise.

Erie instructed his employees to sign documents to submit to government agencies certifying the destruction of the items, though he knew that not all of them had been destroyed.

According to count documents, Erie used a San Marcos storage unit he rented to store some of the seized goods, including watches bearing counterfeit marks related to Paneri, Cartier, Romain Jerome, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Rolex, Chanel, Bebe, Brietling, Omega Graham, Corum, Gucci, Ed Hardy, Coach and Dolce Gabbana, and headphones bearing falsified Bose logos.

Erie then proceeded to traffic in the counterfeit merchandise for his own gain, prosecutors said.

In September 2011, federal agents executed a court-authorized search warrant and seized, among other things, 2,275 counterfeit watches bearing marks registered to Chanel, Gucci, Coach, Ed Hardy and other companies; 524 counterfeit pens bearing marks registered to Montblanc; and a dozen counterfeit Bose headphones.

“Bob Erie was trusted to do one thing with the counterfeit goods illegally being imported at the land and sea borders — keep it out of the stream of commerce by assuring its destruction or recycling,” acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson said.

“Instead, he used the seized counterfeit goods to advance his own personal agenda and commercial advantage to the detriment of the trademark holders, the United States and, ultimately, his own company.”

In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Battaglia ordered Erie, who is free on bond, to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on Sept. 5.

–City News Service

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