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Stogie News: Florida Counterfeit Case Raises Questions

6 Nov 2006

Cuban cigars are considered by many to be the best in the world, but they are also the most widely counterfeited. Since May we’ve been keeping you up to date on major busts involving fake stogie busts both in the U.S. and abroad.

Now the bust we reported on in May, that resulted in Miami-Dade police seizing $20 million in fake cigars, is finally making its way to the courts:

Federal prosecutors have dropped counterfeiting charges against a Little Havana cigar merchant who was accused of selling fake Cuban cigars whose trademarks belong to a major South Florida company.

The U.S. attorney’s office withdrew the charges against Feliberto Marimon this week after determining there were flaws in the prosecution on the eve of trial.

The reason given by the federal prosecutor heading up the case is that Marimon was wrongly identified by a police informant, who now says one of Marimon’s assistants actually handled the Honduran cigars that were marked “Made in Cuba.”

However, hanging over the case is the role played by Altadis USA, owner of many famous Cuban brands such as Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann, and Trinidad. Altadis spent tens of thousands of dollars on the investigation including giving money to the Miami-Dade police for undercover purchases of the counterfeit cigars, paying for the transportation and storage of the cigars seized, and directly paying an informant $1,500 a month plus almost $20,000 in relocation fees.

Such expenditures have led some to ask if Altadis played an improper role, even giving rise to allegations that the company is buying the prosecution.

StogieGuys.com will continue to cover counterfeiting stories, but since it is unlikely that counterfeit cigars will ever be completely eliminated, we suggest that for now you read our guide to spotting a fake.

Patrick S

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Drew Estate

3 Responses to “Stogie News: Florida Counterfeit Case Raises Questions”

  1. Patrick A Monday, November 6, 2006 at 6:13 am #

    This case raises some interesting legal questions that are, quite honestly, above and beyond my understanding of the law. If Atladis' informant fingered the wrong guy, that's one thing (at $1,500 a month, I guess you get what you pay for). But the notion of a company paying for an investigation (from which they stand to benefit) into illegal activty seems more convoluted to me. Any Stogie Guys with law degrees care to chime in on this one?

  2. Anonymous Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 5:59 am #

    shady!

  3. Anonymous Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at 6:10 am #

    lawyers who smoke cigars? Naw.