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Daslu’s Tranchesi Released Awaiting Appeal

Eliana Tranchesi, owner of Rio fashion emporium Daslu, was released from prison late Friday while she appeals her conviction for forming a criminal ring.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Eliana Tranchesi, owner of the chic São Paulo fashion emporium Daslu, was released from prison late Friday while she appeals her conviction for forming a criminal ring, tax evasion and falsification of documents, as well as her 94-year sentence.

This story first appeared in the March 31, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Tranchesi was released 36 hours after her arrest, when Federal Judge Luiz Stefanini, of the 3rd Regional Court in São Paulo, granted a writ of habeas corpus that allows her to remain free while the appeal is ongoing, said her lawyer, Joyce Roysen.

Tranchesi’s brother Antonio Carlos Piva Albuquerque was released from prison 30 minutes after his sister by a writ of habeas corpus granted by Superior Court Judge Og Fernandes in Brasília. That ruling also extended to five import agents, including Celso de Lima, also released from jail. Piva Albuquerque, who also was sentenced to 94 years in prison, and the import agents, whose sentences ranged from 11 to 53 years, are all expected to appeal.

Roysen added that Tranchesi “has the constitutional right to appeal in freedom.” Although Tranchesi is suffering from lung cancer that has metastasized in her spine and is undergoing chemotherapy, she was not released for health reasons, said Roysen. But she added that her client’s delicate health made the arrest and lengthy prison term “cruel and dramatic.”

Federal Judge Maria Isabel do Prado of the 2nd Regional Court in Guarulhos, outside of São Paulo, convicted and sentenced Tranchesi, her brother and the agents late last Wednesday. The judge deliberated for 10 months after the end of the trial, which lasted more than two years. Roysen told WWD last week that the charges against Tranchesi would ordinarily amount to a four-year prison term.

Tranchesi was first arrested in her home and detained for 12 hours in July 2005, shortly after 250 Federal Police agents, part of a government sting called Operation Narcissus, raided her $70 million, 200,000-square-foot fashion emporium.

The government was investigating the retailer in connection with import-export firms that falsified invoices to show that foreign merchandise, delivered by them to Daslu, cost much less than their real prices. Federal Police said the scheme allowed Daslu to pay less than the 20 to 30 percent average import taxes on fashion merchandise.