By  on December 6, 2010

WASHINGTON — Federal officials said Friday that three people pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of conspiring to smuggle counterfeit Coach handbags and other goods into the U.S. from China and Malaysia.

The defendants were part of an indictment filed in March against nine people for their roles in an international, multimillion-dollar counterfeiting ring that had ties in Baltimore, New York, London, Malaysia and China.

The three defendants, Lidan Zhang, Josephine Zhou and Kim Yip Ng, plead guilty in three separate hearings on Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and Dec. 2, respectively. According to the defendants’ pleas, their counterfeit enterprise was responsible for a loss of $400,000 to $1 million to the brands they knocked off. They face maximum sentences of 15 years each.

Nancy Axilrod, associate general counsel for Coach Inc., said the company was “extremely pleased” with the announcement of the guilty plea.

“Coach is committed to dismantling rogue vendors and businesses and protecting the general public from illegitimate and unlawful goods,” Axilrod said. “Coach regularly cooperates with and assists law enforcement on the federal, state and local levels in the fight against counterfeit goods.”

Coach also established a civil litigation anticounterfeiting campaign called Operation Turnlock a year and a half ago, she said, that has resulted in the filing of more than 325 civil lawsuits.

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