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Trademark - U.S. v. Mostafa (C.D. Cal.) (Health and Safety threat)

Fugitive Who Sold Counterfeit Baby Formula
Sentenced to 44 Months Imprisonment

 A man who fled the county and remained a fugitive for six years after realizing he was under investigation was sentenced today to nearly four years in federal prison for his involvement in a conspiracy to sell counterfeit Similac baby formula.

 Mohamad Mostafa, 43, who at the time of the criminal conduct lived in Orange County, was sentenced to 44 months in prison by United States District Judge Alicemarie H. Stotler.
Mostafa, who was arrested in Canada in 2001 after fleeing the United States in 1995 after his scheme to produce and sell large quantities of Similac was discovered, was convicted in August by Judge Stotler, who presided over a three-day bench trial. Mostafa was found guilty of conspiracy, misbranding food after being held for sale in interstate commerce, and two counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods.

Mostafa was the owner and operator of M&M Wholesale, which purported to be a wholesale grocery business with an office in Stanton and a warehouse in Santa Ana. While M&M Wholesale appeared to be distributing grocery products, the company in fact was manufacturing, packaging and distributing counterfeit infant formula throughout California.
The infant formula used by Mostafa came from an out-of-state supplier, who provided the formula to Mostafa under the condition that it would be used exclusively for export to the Middle East. Instead, Mostafa caused laborers to package it in cans bearing a counterfeit reproduction of the well-known Similac infant formula label. Mostafa then sold the counterfeit product as Similac to wholesalers, who in turn sold it to retail stores throughout California, including Safeway.

The counterfeiting scheme quickly unraveled when numerous parents, who were familiar with the authentic Similac product, called the lawful manufacturer to complain. It was later determined that thousands of cases of the fake product had been sold throughout California.

The matter was widely publicized in national and local media after the FDA and Similac’s manufacturer issued a warning about the counterfeit product. After the matter was in the media, Mostafa fled the country and was not heard from again until being arrested in October 2001 in Canada and brought to the United States to stand trial.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations.

Release No. 02-175


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