By Theresa Merto

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 11) - A local businessman was indicted in the U.S. District Court of Guam yesterday on charges of bringing in fake goods to the island and bribing a customs officer.

Hiro Hassaram Uttamchandani, also known as Tony Uttams Sr., faces charges of giving bribes to an agent of an organization receiving federal funds and trafficking in counterfeit merchandise, according to court documents and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karon Johnson said Uttamchandani is the owner of Uttam's store.

On or about Nov. 24, 2003, the defendant "did knowingly and corruptly give, offer and agree to give a thing of value" to David Flores, an agent of the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency, with the intent to influence and reward the agent, the indictment stated.

During the alleged incident, Flores was employed as a Guam customs officer. His duties included inspecting cargo arriving at the airport and prohibiting the entry of counterfeit brand-name merchandise brought to Guam, the indictment stated.

Uttamchandani allegedly gave a $5,000 bribe to Flores -- who was working undercover at the time -- in an attempt to obtain the release of a shipment of counterfeit brand-name merchandise, a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.

Between Nov. 11, 2003, and Nov. 24, 2003, the defendant "did intentionally traffic and attempt to traffic" in handbags, watches and other consumer goods bearing brand names including Louis Vuitton and Rolex.

The marks on the goods were identical and "substantially indistinguishable" from genuine marks that are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the indictment stated.

"Members of the public are reminded that the indictment is only an accusation," the release stated. "The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty."

Johnson is handling the case and is being assisted by Flores and Rob Robertson of the U.S. Customs Service.

Uttamchandani has been summoned to appear in the U.S. District Court tomorrow to answer to the charges.

December 11, 2003

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