On August 22, 2017, the former Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of E-World Recyclers LLC was sentenced to 21 months in federal custody. Robert Erie was convicted of trafficking in counterfeit goods. The conviction is linked to a contact Erie acquired to destroy counterfeit merchandise seized by the government. Instead of destroying or “e-recycling” the counterfeit merchandise, Erie actually trafficked in it for commercial benefit.
E-World Recyclers provided electronic recycling services and was based out of Vista, California. In late 2009, the company entered into a sub-contract with the Department of Homeland Security and Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to recycle counterfeit goods seized by both agencies. From November 4, 2009 to December 18, 2009, the company received roughly 38 shipments containing approximately 1,888 pallets of counterfeit goods from the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.
Erie ordered E-World employees to sign documents certifying that the counterfeit goods had been destroyed. In reality, Erie knew that some of the goods were not destroyed. On December 24, 2009, Erie rented a storage unit in San Marcos and stored some of the counterfeit goods there. The counterfeit goods were knockoffs of various brands, including Chanel, Bebe, Gucci, Coach, Bose, Paneri, Cartier, Corum, Ed Hardy, and more.
Erie kept the storage unit until it was searched by federal agents on September 8, 2011. During the search, federal agents seized 2,275 counterfeit watches, 524 counterfeit pens and 12 counterfeit in-ear headphones. During the time leading up to the search, Erie trafficked in the counterfeit merchandise. Around January 25, 2010, Erie sent at least four separate packages containing counterfeit watches to business associates affiliated with a glass company in Ohio. E-World owed the company money.
Judge Anthony J. Battaglia imposed a two-level upward adjustment for obstruction of justice on Erie based on modification of emails in hopes of avoiding prosecution. In early 2010, it was alleged that Erie altered email correspondence between himself and a Cycle Chem representative from September of 2009. Those emails were later sent to his criminal defense attorney, who sent the altered emails to the United States Attorney’s Office. The altered emails gave the impression that the contractor had given E-World permission to redistribute and/or remarket the counterfeit watches. In reality, it had not.
53-year-old Robert Erie of Carlsbad, California pleaded guilty on February 23, 2017. He admitted to trafficking in counterfeit items that had an estimated retail value of at least $1,450,000. Previously, Erie was convicted and sentenced in June of 2013 to five years of probation for being a felon with a firearm in his possession. Now, Erie has been sentenced to 21 months and has been ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. Erie has been ordered to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on September 5, 2017. Erie was released on bond during the pendency of the proceedings.