Stogie Guys Free Newsletter

Subscribe today for a chance to win great cigar prizes:

Presented by:

Stogie News: High-Profile Cigar Counterfeiter Sentenced

4 Jan 2007

Since May we’ve been keeping you up to speed on Altadis’ war against fake cigar trafficking and the ensuing controversy.

As you will recall, the Florida-based cigar manufacturer – which holds the exclusive trademarks to the famed Montecristo, H. Upmann, and Romeo y Julieta brands – has been funding undercover Miami-Dade police investigations into fake stogie rings.

Well, while was on its holiday break, one of Altadis’ targets received his punishment. Juan Penton, a 43-year-old carpenter from Hialeah, was sentenced to five months of house arrest, five years probation, and a $7,500 fine for selling $3,000 worth of counterfeit Cuban cigars.

Altadis holds the rights to some of the most famous “Cuban” brands because its parent company, based in Spain, bought them from Cuba’s exiled cigar-baron families decades after Castro’s revolution in 1959. As such, the prosecution pitted Penton against the giant cigar company that funded part of the criminal investigation.

Throughout the trial the defense countered by accusing Altadis of manipulating police work, which included an undercover buy of 60 wooden boxes of Dominican stogies in boxes stamped “Made in Cuba.”

While counterfeiting cigars is certainly a deplorable business, let’s not forget that fake Cubans wouldn’t be in such high demand without our government-imposed, hypocritical embargo on Cuban goods. Even so, something about a large company funding police work that it stands to benefit from doesn’t sit quite right.

Well, until this whole mess is sorted out, it wouldn’t hurt to revisit our May post on how to spot a fake.

Patrick A


3 Responses to “Stogie News: High-Profile Cigar Counterfeiter Sentenced”

  1. Mac and Nudo Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 6:52 am #

    Now I'm no fan of fake Cubans, but doesn't that sentence seem a little harsh? I mean, five months house arrest, probation for five years, and a $7,500 fine…All for selling only $3,000 in counterfeit cigars to undercover cops (who were funded by a huge stogie manufacturer)? C'mon!

  2. Sam Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 7:09 am #

    What I don't get, is how Altadis feels they have the exclusive rights to these brands yet they do not own the rights to the Cuban versions of these brands made by Habanos which the conterfeits were purported to be 'made in Cuba'

    What happens if ever the embargo ends and shipments of the Cuban brands return to the US? Do the old families sue the Cuban brands? Do the Cuban brands sue Altadis to say they had no authority to buy the brands since they were nationalized? It could be a mess.

    In any event protecting ones trademarks and brand is very important, but the methodology certainly seems suspect for what amounts to not a huge seizure- 3000- what 20 boxes of cigars maybe?? How much did the investigation and so on cost?? Sometimes it costs more to stop than it does to let it go- If I was a shareholder I might be upset it cost 100000 company dollars to stop someone taking 3000 of our business!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Stogie Guys Friday Sampler XLX - Friday, May 25, 2007

    […] 1) Remember that high-profile cigar counterfeit case we’ve been talking about for over a year now? You know, the really complicated scenario where Altadis was controversially working hand-in-hand with the Miami-Dade police department to convict Juan Penton for alleged copyright infractions? Well, earlier this month the Miami New Times published a revealing exposé on the matter. It’s worth a read. As it turns out, Penton may not be as guilty as many previously thought. […]