On June 7, 2019, in U.S. District Court, Columbus, Ohio, Timothy Stanfield was sentenced to 6 months of home confinement, 5 years of probation, 200 hours of community service, a $325 special assessment, and $22,614.74 in restitution to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to cover unpaid duties. In addition, Stanfield must disclose all his financial information to probation officials and cannot apply for new credit from anyone without prior approval.
The investigation found that, to avoid paying the proper import tax, Stanfield intentionally understated the value of lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries he imported from China. He also laundered money and violated safety regulations by improperly labeling, mailing, and shipping the batteries, which are considered a hazardous material.
Stanfield was the owner of Ready Made RC, an Ohio-based company that sells radio-controlled model aircraft, drones, and related parts and supplies. Between October 2012 and January 2015, he placed multiple orders valued at $778,395.60 with a Chinese company, Kypom Technology Stock Co., Ltd. In January 2015, Customs and Border Protection agents inspected one shipment—186 boxes containing 4,007 individual batteries. Stanfield’s declared value was $19,827, significantly less than the actual invoiced value of the batteries. In addition, the batteries were not properly packaged or labeled for air cargo shipment. DOT safety regulations for hazardous materials apply to shipments of LiPo batteries because of their chemical contents and volatility.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with the Department of Homeland Security–Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation Division, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.