Retailer Found Guilty of Selling Counterfeit Cubans

A cigar retailer from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has been sentenced to nearly one year in jail for selling counterfeit cigars.

James David Joiner, 65, who was named in a February 2006 raid on Smoke Café in Fort Lauderdale, where thousands of dollars' worth of fake cigars were seized, was found guilty of violating the U.S. trademarks for Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann and Trinidad cigars.

He was remanded into custody, then sentenced on October 6 to 364 days in Broward County Jail in Florida and five years' probation by Judge Mily Rodriguez-Powell of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County.

"He sold fakes purporting to be Cuban," said Janelle Rosenfeld, a vice president at Altadis U.S.A. Inc., which owns the U.S. trademarks to Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, H. Upmann and other cigars.

Rosenfeld said Joiner was the owner of Smoke Café. "Any product using our trademark and not made by us is a trademark violation regardless of country of origin. It is the first retail tobacconist for which we are aware who has been found guilty and sentenced for selling counterfeit cigars," said Rosenfeld.

For more on this story, see the current issue of Cigar Insider.

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