Mass. man charged with importing fake semiconductors, some for sub use

Federal authorities have charged a Massachusetts man with importing counterfeit semiconductors from China, some of which were intended for use on nuclear submarines.

The charges against Peter Picone, 40, of Methuen, Mass., were announced by a host of federal agencies Monday when an eight-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in June was unsealed.

It alleges that from 2007 through 2012, two companies he owned and operated, Tytronix Inc. and Epic International Electronics, purchased counterfeit semiconductors from sources in Hong Kong and China.

It is unclear if any of the counterfeit electrical components were ever used in a military application, but authorities said Picone sold them to customers throughout the U.S., “including companies believed by Picone to be defense contractors in Connecticut and Florida.”

Electric Boat spokesman Robert Hamilton declined to comment because the case is pending in court.

Picone was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez of the District of Connecticut in Hartford and released on bond. A trial is scheduled for Sept. 9. He faces up to 75 years in prison based on the maximum terms for each charge, which include conspiring to traffic in counterfeit military goods, trafficking in counterfeit goods, wire fraud and conspiring to commit money laundering.

“Trafficking in counterfeit sensitive technologies is an extremely dangerous practice on several fronts. Not only are there significant risks associated with the transportation of this faulty equipment, but our own American servicemembers are also put in harm’s way when they encounter substandard equipment,” said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations in Boston.

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