Federal authorities in New Jersey said five people associated with one of the largest counterfeit goods smuggling operations in history have pleaded guilty.
The five were among 29 people charged in the $325 million counterfeit ring taken down and revealed by federal officials in March 2012. The operation involved counterfeit smuggling and sales of well-known apparel and accessories brands, as well as large amounts of contraband drugs, authorities said in indictments and three criminal complaints at the time.
Yi Jian Chen, 53, and Hui Huang, 33, both of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Ning Guo, 40, of China, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods Friday before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in federal court in Newark. Guo also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy.
Two others — Jian Zhi Mo, 45, of Flushing, N.Y., and Yuan Feng Lai, 28, of New York City — pleaded guilty Aug. 12 to one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods.
The five defendants ran an international counterfeit goods smuggling and distribution conspiracy from August 2008 through February 2012, according to court documents. Their part in the operation involved illegally importing more than 35 containers of counterfeit goods, primarily bogus handbags, sneakers and cigarettes, to the U.S. from China, authorities said. The retail value was estimated at $47 million. Among the goods seized at the time were counterfeit Ugg and Timberland boots, Nike sneakers, Burberry scarves, Gucci handbags, Lacoste shirts, Coach and Louis Vuitton handbags and Polo sweatshirts.
According to court documents, the conspirators sought help and unknowingly agreed to use a corporation that was actually a front company set up by law enforcement to import the goods through Port Newark/Elizabeth Marine Terminal. They then used fraudulent customs paperwork, falsely declaring the goods within the containers. Authorities said several undercover special agents were introduced to the conspirators, who paid the agents more than $900,000 for “services” to help move the cargo through the port.
Each defendant faces up to 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine on the conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods charge. Guo faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or “twice the gain or loss caused be the offense” for the money laundering charge. All five defendants are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 25.
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion