Man gets home arrest for selling fake cigars
A Hialeah carpenter convicted of selling counterfeit Cuban cigars in a high-stakes trial was sentenced to five months of home confinement on Thursday in federal court in Miami.
Juan Penton, 43, must wear an electronic device to track his movements but can go to work.
In addition, he faces five years of probation and must pay a $7,500 fine.
U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno rejected a prosecutor's request to put him behind bars for five years after Penton, his son and a defense lawyer sought leniency.
''I think the judge imposed an exceedingly fair sentence,'' said defense attorney Jose ''Pepe'' Herrera.
At trial in October, Penton testified he made wooden cigar boxes stamped ''Made in Cuba'' to sell as novelty gifts. A jury found him guilty of selling $3,000 worth of counterfeit cigars in those imitation boxes, concluding he was essentially copying famous Cuban cigar trademarks, such as Montecristo, that are registered in the United States by the nation's largest cigar producer.
The prosecution pitted Penton not only against the U.S. government but also the giant cigar company that funded part of the criminal investigation, Altadis U.S.A., based in Fort Lauderdale.
Herrera accused Altadis of manipulating the Miami-Dade County police investigation, which included an undercover buy of 60 wooden boxes of Dominican-made cigars -- though the boxes read ``Made in Cuba.''
Altadis gave police $3,000 to make the purchase.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gilfarb said Penton counterfeited Altadis' Cuban cigar brands registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.
Altadis claims it holds the U.S. trademarks for premium Cuban cigar brands Montecristo cigars, H. Upmann cigars, Por Larranaga cigars, Romeo y Julieta cigars, Saint Luis Rey and Trinidad cigars.
Source: MiamiHerald News