Corinna firm admits illegally creating fake Red Sox, Jack Daniels, Playboy logos

Federal agents watch as filing cabinets are loaded into a moving truck at Berg Sportswear in Corinna in this January 2011 file photo.
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Federal agents watch as filing cabinets are loaded into a moving truck at Berg Sportswear in Corinna in this January 2011 file photo.
Posted June 23, 2014, at 4:19 p.m.
Last modified June 23, 2014, at 5:52 p.m.
Robert Berg
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Robert Berg

BANGOR, Maine — The president of a Corinna business that does custom screen printing and embroidery waived indictment and pleaded guilty on the corporation’s behalf Monday in U.S. District Court to a charge of creating fake logos for sports teams, a distillery, a tractor company and a motorcycle manufacturer.

Robert Berg Enterprises Inc., doing business as Berg Sportswear Inc., owned by Robert and Hedda Berg, both of Corinna, had been under investigation for trafficking in counterfeit goods, money laundering and tax evasion for more than three years, according to court documents.

Robert Berg, president of the corporation, entered the plea on its behalf. He recently transferred all shares in the firm to his wife, according to his attorney, Richard Berne of Portland. She authorized Robert Berg to enter the plea on behalf of the corporation.

Berg does not face prison time on the charge, but the corporation will be required to pay a fine. On behalf of the corporation, Berg agreed not to appeal the case to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston if the fine is $20,000 or less.

The maximum fine for the charge of trafficking in counterfeit goods is $5 million, according to the U.S. attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case.

A sentencing date has not been set.

By pleading guilty, the corporation admitted that between January 2006 and January 2011, it sold counterfeited apparel bearing the trademarks of the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, New York Yankees, Harley-Davidson, John Deere, Jack Daniels, Orange County Choppers and Playboy, according to court documents.

Employees designed counterfeit trademarks, created screens from which the trademarks could be printed on apparel items and printed the counterfeit trademarks on those items, according to the prosecution version of events to which the corporation pleaded guilty. They were “substantially indistinguishable from genuine [trademarks] in use” and registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C.

The charge stemmed from a January 2011 raid by several federal agencies on the business for allegedly using the logos of professional sports teams, distilleries and a motorcycle manufacturer without permission on T-shirts, hats, caps and other merchandise.

Berg Sportswear continues to operate.

The charges against the company are unrelated to the pot plantation case in which Robert Berg was involved.

Berg, 51, pleaded guilty Jan. 7 to being an accessory after the fact to manufacturing 1,000 or more marijuana plants at a large marijuana farm in Township 37 in Washington County.

By pleading guilty, Berg admitted that he knew about the pot plantation and that police had raided it on Sept. 22, 2009, forcing workers to flee. The next day, a longtime friend asked Berg to pick up the undocumented workers in the woods in Washington County, according to the prosecution version of events to which he pleaded guilty.

Berg Sportswear, 852 Dexter Road, and the Bergs’ residence, 160 Stetson Road, were searched in January 2011 by federal authorities. The search warrants, the inventory of the items seized and related documents were unsealed last month. They had been sealed since Jan. 10, 2011, when the application for the warrants was filed.

Investigators seized business records, computers and dozens of boxes of merchandise from the business and residence, according to a previous report. In addition to those items, more than $38,000 in U.S. currency and $740 in Canadian cash was found and seized in safes in the garage of the couple’s home.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, with the assistance of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Internal Revenue Service — Criminal Investigation Division.

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business