New York Woman Pleads Guilty To Trafficking Over $3 Million In Counterfeit Footwear And Handbags Through Port Of Newark
NEWARK, N.J. – A Flushing, New York, woman today admitted her plan to distribute counterfeit Nike sneakers, Louis Vuitton handbags, and other phony merchandise that was shipped into the Port of Newark, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Xiao Xia Zhao, 41, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares in Newark federal court to an information charging her with one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods. Zhao was originally arrested and charged by complaint on June 23, 2017.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From November 2013 through February 2017, Zhao received certain shipping container numbers from an individual overseas that identified at least three containers containing counterfeit merchandise. Zhao asked individuals working at the Port of Newark to remove the containers from the port before they could be examined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Once the containers were removed, Zhao directed that they be delivered to other individuals, who would then distribute the merchandise in New Jersey and elsewhere.
However, law enforcement intercepted the containers before Zhao could distribute the goods. At no time was Zhao authorized to import Nike footwear, Louis Vuitton handbags, or any of the other counterfeit merchandise in the containers.
In total, Zhao trafficked in thousands of pairs of fake Nike footwear, Louis Vuitton handbags, and other counterfeit items, with a total estimated retail value of over $3 million. Zhao also paid individuals over $75,000 in exchange for the delivery of the containers.
The trafficking in counterfeit goods charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine. Zhao’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 5, 2018.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited officers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Leon Hayward, Acting Director, New York Field Operations; and special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason S. Gould of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Chester Keller Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark