Three Individuals Indicted in Conspiracy to Sell Counterfeit Apparel and Accessories
WASHINGTON – Three individuals were indicted today for trafficking in counterfeit goods through their operation of a retail store and warehouse used to sell apparel and accessories under unauthorized trademarks announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu.
Today a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment alleging that Zi Yu Zheng, 57, Xiao Ling Wei, 56, and Ling Wu Wei, 50, all from Maryland, conspired to sell apparel and accessories with counterfeit trademarks that appeared to be items that were manufactured by brand-name designers. According to the indictment, the three individuals operated a retail store, The Guang Da Group, and a warehouse in Northeast, D.C., from which they sold counterfeit clothing, shoes, jewelry, handbags, and other accessories that were virtually indistinguishable from legitimate merchandise produced by designer companies such as Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Nike, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Rolex, North Face, and Timberland.
According to the indictment, the defendants kept a filing cabinet of logos trademarked by these companies, which they attached to apparel and accessories sold from their warehouse and The Guang Da Group retail store. The indictment alleges that the three individuals openly displayed the counterfeit merchandise in the retail store, while engaging in various security and counter-surveillance measures to prevent detection by law enforcement, including limiting access to their warehouse to individuals and customers they knew, prohibiting cell phones in the warehouse, and maintaining a secret showroom of counterfeit merchandise behind a false emergency door. According to the indictment, law enforcement penetrated the conspiracy through controlled purchases executed by confidential sources and an undercover agent.
All three defendants are charged with conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. Zi Yu Zheng and Xiao Ling Wei are also each charged with one count, and Ling Wu Wei is also charged with two counts, of trafficking in counterfeit goods, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2320(a). The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation. The case has not yet been assigned to a U.S. District Judge and an initial appearance date has not been set.
The charges in an indictment are merely allegations and every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The statutory maximum penalty for conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, is five years; for trafficking in counterfeit goods, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2320(a), the statutory maximum penalty is 10 years.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Marando of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section is prosecuting the case.