An Englewood man sold knock-off auto parts to unwitting customers, including repair shops that service New York City's taxi and livery cab fleet, federal authorities announced Tuesday.
The 28-year-old city man, Fadi Kilani, was one of three people charged in an alleged scam to peddle repackaged car parts as ones made by brand-name manufactures, including Ford Motor Company and General Motors.
“As alleged, these defendants sold the automobile replacement parts equivalent of designer knock-offs, but represented to their unsuspecting customers that they were buying the ‘name brand,’ Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "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."
Starting in October 2011, Kilani and 67-year-old Shashi Malhotra, of Norwood, repackaged and sold the aftermarket parts as name-brand products from businesses they operated in Paterson, according to a federal indictment. Another man, Richard Dininni, allegedly ran a similar fraud from Easton, Pa.
Malhotra ran Worldwide Auto Parts, and S&S International Products and Manufacturing in Paterson, while Kilani operated Cypros Trading and Shipping, prosecutors said. FBI agents raided businesses linked to the scam early Tuesday and arrested the men at their homes, officials said.
The counterfeit parts, some shipped from China, included brakes, brake pads, brake shoes, anti-locking braking sensors and water pumps, court papers show.
Kilani also exported repackaged counterfeit parts to Saudi Arabia and other countries, the indictment says.
Officials said New York City taxi riders were never in danger from the knock-off car parts.
"The public may remain confident in the safety of New York City taxicabs by virtue of the frequent and exhaustive inspections they each undergo at the TLC’s own state-of-the-art facility, but successfully keeping counterfeiters like these at bay is crucial,” NYC Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky said in a statement.
Kilani, Malhotra and Dininni were each charged with one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods.