FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A Fayetteville man will spend six years in prison, surrender two homes and more than $200,000 after he was found guilty of trafficking in counterfeit goods on a Fayetteville-based website, federal officials say.
Kurt Michael Krol, 36, was sentenced on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty in mid-December 2015.
Krol’s Fayetteville company, Universal Mania Inc., a website that sold consumer electronics, also sold counterfeit branded goods for more than two years starting in September 2012, officials said.
Krol founded the company in January 2008 and for some time it initially sold legitimate consumer electronic equipment, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina said in a news release.
However, an incident involving Otterbox cell phone protection devices led to federal officials discovering counterfeit sales, officials said.
Authorities said that after Krol’s company began purchasing counterfeit Otterbox products after he met in 2011 or 2012 with a Hong Kong company that sold such Outterbox items.
On Oct. 31, 2012, Otterbox alleged that Universal Mania had infringed on their federal trademark registrations.
In December 2013, a court ordered Krol’s company pay Otterbox $200,000 for trademark infringement.
The investigation prompted by Otterbox found that Krol met with a representative from the Hong Kong company in Fayetteville to find out what products they could counterfeit, officials said.
Federal officials said that Krol then important counterfeit products from various companies including L’Oreal, Conair beauty products, Garmin products, Philips products, Harman International Industries (JBL), LG, and Bose speakers and/or headphones.
During the time Krol sold counterfeit merchandise he also sold merchandise from legitimate distributors on the internet.
When one internet business discovered UM was selling counterfeit items through its website, they terminated UM’s accounts.
However, “Krol then solicited Universal Mania employees, friends, and family members to establish accounts on the website to sell Universal Mania counterfeit products,” the U.S. Attorney said.
After spending six years in prison, Krol will then have three years of supervised release.