Charges: Chinese surveillance goods illegally sold to US

The investigation began in 2017 but prosecutors alleged the scheme had been going on since 2006

The investigation began in 2017 but prosecutors alleged the scheme had been going on since 2006

A Long Island, New York, company is accused of illegally importing Chinese-made security equipment and then selling it to US agencies.

U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue called the fraud scheme a national security threat. Federal agents swarmed the facility Thursday morning. The move effectively barred the Chinese telecom giant Huawei from doing business with American companies without United States government approval.

Six of the seven defendants - Jack Cabasso, Frances Cabasso, Jonathan Lasker, Christine Lavonne Lazarus, Eduard Matulik and Alan Schwartz - were arrested early Thursday and made their first appearances later in the day in Federal District Court in Brooklyn.

Some of the alleged counterfeit hardware included night-vision cameras sold for $13,500 apiece, $156,000 worth of automated turnstiles, and more than two-dozen body cameras.

In 1992, he was found guilty of conspiring to influence a female juror in a case charging him with wire fraud. Jack and Frances Cabasso, a married couple, were also charged with money laundering conspiracy.

Company representatives did not return National Review's request for comment in time for publication. That includes surveillance systems bought by the U.S. Army, Air Force, Department of Energy and other U.S. agencies. A phone number listed on the Aventura website has been disconnected.

Prosecutors say the company billed its products as homemade - with some even baring phony "Made in USA" labels - even though they were actually smuggled into the States from China and elsewhere. When customers asked for reassurances that Aventura's cameras were made in America, company executives said they were manufactured at a factory in NY.

Though there was no evidence of breaches or Chinese government involvement, emails recovered in the investigation showed "individuals in China were well aware of what was going on", Donoghue said.

"This software that was then put into US systems was known to have vulnerabilities that would allow others to access those networks", Mr. Donoghue said.

The authorities are in the process of removing the equipment from government facilities, Mr. Donoghue said. He had deep business relationships in China and used a network of shell companies to launder the millions of dollars he made, the prosecution memo said. He was convicted of a handful of crimes relating to fraud, grand larceny, and corruption, among others, dating back to 1982.

Prosecutors seized the Cabassos' 70-foot luxury yacht, the Tranquilo, and froze 12 bank accounts containing around $3 million.

Aventura Technologies, Inc. peddled security cameras, turnstiles and other sensitive safety gear to a host of government branches - including the Army, Navy and Air Force - that were falsely advertised as either made in the USA or completely lacking mandatory country-of-origin markings, prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint.

Mr. Cabasso was also accused of making false representations that his wife was Aventura's chief executive so that the company could obtain government contracts set aside specifically for small businesses owned by women. Some of the equipment had known cybersecurity issues, the DOJ said.

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