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Intellectual Property Rights

2 men from China plead guilty in Houston to counterfeiting luxury goods

HOUSTON — Two men from China, who were found with more than 14,000 fake luxury items, both pleaded guilty to producing counterfeit goods, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

These convictions came after an intensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Yintang Cao, 48, and Hong Zhang, 46, both pleaded guilty April 24 before U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal. The counterfeiting charges arose after Cao and Zhang were discovered with more than 14,000 counterfeit items bearing the names of Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Versace, manufacturers of luxury fashion goods.

"Intellectual property theft is not a victimless crime, and should concern every American," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. "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."

Cao and Zhang were charged with separate, but related, criminal information's March 15. On Wednesday, they admitted they knowingly used counterfeit marks on and in connection with such goods, identical to and substantially indistinguishable from genuine marks, the use of which was likely to cause confusion, mistake and to deceive.

Judge Rosenthal set sentencing for Aug. 9, at which time both men face up to 10 years in federal prison, as well as a $2 million fine. They were permitted to remain on bond pending their sentencing hearing.