JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri – A couple from Columbia, Missouri, pleaded guilty today in federal court to a scheme to smuggle counterfeit Disney DVDs into the United States and sell them on eBay.
Tabitha Nicole Rodgers, 42, and her husband, Clint Travis Rodgers, 48, pleaded guilty in separate appearances before Examining Magistrate Willie J. Epps, Jr. Tabitha Rodgers pleaded guilty to one count charge of for-profit copyright infringement. Clint Rodgers pleaded guilty to one count of felony criminal infringement of copyright.
In July 2014, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) received information from the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center that Clint Rodgers had received more than 443 shipments of counterfeit DVDs from companies in Hong Kong known to sell and export products. counterfeit. HSI agents identified two shipments that had been seized prior to delivery to the Rodgers’ home in Colombia. One shipment contained 200 counterfeit “Beauty and the Beast” DVDs and another shipment contained 260 counterfeit “Aladdin” DVDs. On February 4, 2015, Customs and Border Protection officers seized a package addressed to Clint Rodgers that contained 200 counterfeit Disney DVDs.
According to today’s plea agreement, undercover federal agents purchased several counterfeit Disney DVDs from Rodgers on eBay in February and March 2015. The Rodgers have declared the DVDs to be genuine and genuine Disney products, whereas in fact, they knew the products were counterfeit. During the investigation, officers contacted two people who assisted the Rodgers in selling counterfeit DVDs on eBay. They told agents they were aware of numerous customer complaints, including complaints that DVDs did not work.
On August 25, 2015, HSI officers executed a search warrant at the Rodgers residence. Officers seized an assortment of counterfeit goods, including numerous counterfeit Disney DVDs. Tabitha Rodgers admitted that she runs the day-to-day operations of the business. She corresponded by email with the counterfeit DVD supplier in Hong Kong and placed orders for DVDs. She also packaged and shipped the DVDs to customers and handled customer complaints when the DVDs were unusable.
Under today’s plea agreement, Tabitha Rodgers is to forfeit from the government a pecuniary judgment in an amount to be determined by the court in sentencing which represents her share of the proceeds of criminal activity. .
Under federal law, Tabitha Rodgers can face a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole. Clint Rodgers faces a sentence of up to one year in federal prison without parole. The maximum legal sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for information, as the sentence of defendants will be determined by the court based on the Sentencing Advisory Guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of introductory inquiries by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being continued by Assistant US Attorney Jim Lynn. It has been investigated by Homeland Security Investigation and the US Department of Agriculture.