Feds charge Memphis man in connection to illegal importation and sale of airbags
A deployed airbag. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A federal grand jury has indicted a Memphis man on allegations of illegally importing counterfeit airbag parts, assembling them and selling them on eBay to automotive repair shops.
U.S. Attorney Kevin Ritz of Tennessee’s Western District announced Wednesday the indictment and arrest of Mohammed Al-Abadi, 51, for one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods and one count of causing the criminal transportation of hazardous materials by air carrier.
The indictment accuses Al-Abadi of importing counterfeit motor vehicle airbag parts from China, assembling them and then selling them to unsuspecting automobile repair shops and individual customers from about Oct. 1, 2019, to Jan. 14, 2021.
Federal agents recovered more than 2,000 counterfeit airbags and parts from the man’s residence and business, according to a statement from Ritz’s office.
“The alleged actions of the defendant have placed unsuspecting motorists and the general public in harm’s way,” Ritz said in the statement. “Vehicle airbags are subject to strict quality standards which must be followed to ensure passenger safety. The defendant’s alleged actions undermined the efforts of the automobile industry and regulatory bodies to keep the public safe.”
Rana Saoud, Homeland Security Investigations special agent in charge, praised the “diligent and extensive investigative work” of HSI agents in uncovering the fraudulent airbag scheme.
Todd Damiani, special agent in charge for the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General’s Southern Region, said Al-Abadi’s indictment and arrest “demonstrates the continuous coordination with our federal and prosecutorial partners to curtail the flow of these dangerous and illegal automobile products into the United States.”
If convicted, Al-Abadi faces up to 1o years in prison and a fine of $2 million for trafficking in the counterfeit airbags and up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for causing the transportation of hazardous materials by air carrier, the prosecutor’s statement said. Both charges also carry a period of up to three years supervision following release from imprisonment. There is no parole in the federal system.
This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Raney Irwin is prosecuting this case.
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