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December 6, 2017Springfield, MO, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

Missouri woman pleads guilty to counterfeit Louis Vuitton scheme

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A southwestern Missouri woman pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to smuggling counterfeit Louis Vuitton material into the United States so that she could make and sell counterfeit merchandise on her website.

This guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the IRS Criminal Investigation division.

Tonya Virtue, 33, of Mountain Grove, Missouri, waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to one count of smuggling goods into the United States.

Virtue admitted that she sold approximately $50,000 worth of counterfeit Louis Vuitton items through her online store, Soul Sisters, to customers throughout the United States. Virtue received shipments of fabric and material affixed with counterfeit Louis Vuitton trademarks and logos from an overseas Chinese manufacturer between Jan. 1 and Sept. 27, 2017. Virtue created counterfeit handbags, purses and other items from the counterfeit fabric, which she sold to consumers who believed they were purchasing items created by Louis Vuitton.

Under the terms of her plea agreement, Virtue must forfeit to the government $50,000 derived from the proceeds of the criminal scheme, as well as 17 Louis Vuitton clutch bags, 34 Louis Vuitton shoulder bags, 4 Louis Vuitton duffle bags, 9 Louis Vuitton wallets, 5 incomplete Louis Vuitton shoulder bags, 3 13-by-55-foot sheets of Louis Vuitton material, 1 15-by-55-foot sheet of Louis Vuitton material, 60 13-by-26-inch sheets of Louis Vuitton material, 36 Louis Vuitton-branded boxes.

Under federal statutes, Virtue is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. It was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and IRS-Criminal Investigation..