Thomas E. Popoli, president of Nylon Engineering Resins Inc., was arrested Oct. 30 at Southwest Florida International Airport by U.S. Customs Service agents. Popoli's arrest was the result of a 27-count federal indictment issued Oct. 30 in connection with importing and selling plastic resins made in the Far East.
Neither Popoli nor his lawyers could be reached Oct. 31 for comment.
Hoechst Celanese Corp. put a spotlight on Popoli and his Fort Myers, Fla., company in November 1994, when it accused him in a civil lawsuit of infringing its trademarks and counterfeiting its resins.
Popoli responded by filing a countersuit for slander in which he is seeking $10 million in damages. That suit is pending.
The Oct. 30 indictment charges that Popoli initiated a complex conspiracy that involved:
Smuggling plastic resins into the United States from the Far East.
Using fraudulent documents for customs purposes and for evading about $147,910 in customs duties.
Committing mail fraud in the sales and representations of certain products.
Misusing trademarked names to move certain products through customs and to sell them to customers. The trademarks that Popoli allegedly misused are the Celcon acetal resin names owned by Hoechst.
In providing details about his alleged actions, the indictment charges that Popoli:
Instructed other parties to: remove identification information from bags of resins; alter invoices to reflect lower prices than his company actually paid; and refer to certain resins as ``synthetic resins'' in paperwork, rather than by those resins' trade names.
Arranged or attempted to arrange to have unmarked bags of resins imported to the United States.
Placed Celcon labels on bags of resins before shipping those bags to customers.
Discussed in a facsimile message avoiding duties on resin imports.
A news release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, Fort Myers Division, said Popoli was arrested ``while attempting to depart the Southwest Florida International Airport in his private aircraft for the Bahamas.''
The release said Popoli could face maximum imprisonment of 20 years and fines up to $500,000 if he is found guilty.