Roni Jacob Shinyder, who was caught in an FBI sting operation in Greenbelt, has pleaded guilty to manufacturing and distributing about 75,000 bottles of counterfeit Nexxus shampoo in eight states.
Shinyder faces up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines after pleading guilty to two felony counts late Thursday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Real Nexxus shampoo can be obtained only from hairdressers, because the manufacturer, Nexxus Products Co. of Santa Barbara, Calif., sells the product only to beauty salons and barbershops. But company officials have said that more than $1 million worth of fake Nexxus products, sold to drugstores and other outlets, has been confiscated since last year.
The counterfeit shampoo, which has been found in the Washington area, contains a high amount of bacteria that in some cases could cause eye infections or scalp sores, according to Nexxus officials. They say they have been hit by complaints from longtime customers who bought the fake version.
FBI agents arrested Shinyder in February while he was unloading 5,712 bottles of fake Nexxus shampoo and conditioner from a rented truck at the Beltway Beauty and Barber Supply Store in Greenbelt. Store owner J. Anthony Russo, suspecting the products were fake, feigned interest them and notified Nexxus, which called in the FBI.
Shinyder made the fake products in 55-gallon drums at an empty store in Los Angeles, according to the plea agreement. He used a silk screening process to duplicate the Nexxus logo and slogan ("Nature and Earth United with Science") on blank bottles.
Shinyder traveled around the country, peddling nearly $200,000 worth of the counterfeit products from California to New York. In March 1985, Shinyder avoided capture by U.S. deputy marshals when he answered the phone in an Anaheim supply store and learned that the government was seizing the products he had sold to the store. He is to be sentenced July 1.
Genuine Nexxus products feature a raised Nexxus logo and blue and white cap, while some of the counterfeit products have no raised logo and a brown cap.