WASHINGTON – Four Massachusetts residents were sentenced in federal court for money laundering and trafficking and conspiring to traffic in more than $1 million of counterfeit luxury handbags and wallets, as well as the materials needed to make these counterfeits, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher for the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan of the District of Massachusetts; Special Agent in Charge Bruce M. Foucart of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New England; and Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Bricker of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Criminal Investigation in New England announced today.
Minh Vu, 26, Katherine Luong, 28, Camphung Luong, 25, and Kim Luong, 34, were sentenced to the following terms in prison by U.S. District Court Judge William Young: Vu received 30 months, Katherine Luong received 36 months, Camphung Luong received 24 months, and Kim Luong received 30 months. According to the terms of their plea agreements, the defendants made over $48,000 in restitution payments to the victims and did not contest the forfeiture of five bank accounts, over $41,000 in cash, two vehicles, and the counterfeit merchandise.
At the defendants’ earlier guilty pleas, Vu and Luong admitted that they had rented 13 self-storage units at a facility in Revere, Mass., as their counterfeiting operation’s home base. When raided by law enforcement officers, these storage units held approximately 12,231 counterfeit handbags; 7,651 counterfeit wallets; more than 17,000 generic handbags and wallets; and enough counterfeit labels and medallions to turn more than 50,000 generic handbags and wallets into counterfeits. These items copied Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Burberry, and Coach trademarks, but were of lower price and quality. Ten of the storage units were used for storage; two were configured to display items in the open, like showrooms; and one held a work-table and tools that could be used to turn the generic wallets and handbags into counterfeits. Vu and the others sold their counterfeit wallets and handbags at a flea market in Revere, and to smaller gatherings at approximately 250 “purse parties” throughout Massachusetts.
According to government estimates, the counterfeit and generic handbags and wallets were worth more than $1 million at average counterfeit prices (typically $35 for wallets and $40 for handbags). The storage units also contained numerous counterfeit handbags and wallets of other manufacturers, along with scarves, belts, umbrellas, sunglasses, duffle bags, hats, visors, garment bags, coats, shoes, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings bearing counterfeit marks owned by these and other victim companies.
The case was investigated by ICE and the IRS, building upon an investigation by the Massachusetts State Police, the Boston Police Department, and the Suffolk County, Mass., District Attorney’s Office, which referred the matter for federal prosecution. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam J. Bookbinder of the District of Massachusetts Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Unit, and by Senior Counsel Scott L. Garland of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal Division.