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Press Release

Laredo Downtown Merchant Heads To Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

LAREDO, Texas – Yi Hui Chen, 47, a merchant in downtown Laredo, has been ordered to federal prison for trafficking in counterfeit goods and ordered to pay more than $400,000 in restitution, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Janice Ayala, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Chen pleaded guilty May 16, 2013.

Today, U.S. District Judge Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Chen a sentence of 18 months in federal prison. He was further ordered to pay restitution in the amounts of $265,836 to Coach and $80,324.23, $39,943.33, $35,675, $5,343, $826.23 and $290 to Tory Burch, Louis Vitton, Gucci, Burberry, Nike and Prada, respectively.

Chen, a U.S. legal permanent resident who was born in Taiwan, was the owner of J Design located in downtown Laredo. He is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.

HSI special agents met with Chen and conducted undercover buys of counterfeits goods at Chen’s place of business. Approximately 5,722 counterfeit items of numerous styles and brands of handbags, wallets, hats, sunglasses, shirts and luggage, all of which were counterfeit, were seized over the course of the investigation. Brands included Burberry, Cartier, Chanel, Chi, Coach, Dooney and Bourke, Gucci, Hermes, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Nike, Oakley, Polo, Prada, Rayban, Rolex, Tory Burch and Dolce & Gabanna. 

“Intellectual property theft is not a victimless crime and should concern every American,” said Ayala. “Enforcing our nation's counterfeiting laws is about protecting our economy, while also shielding the unwitting consumer from sub-par and/or unsafe merchandise and upholding the intellectual property rights of those who play by the rules.”

The case was investigated by HSI. The case was prosecuted by former Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Roel Canales. AUSA Shawn Coker handled the sentencing today.   

Updated April 30, 2015