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Intellectual Property Rights

Pennsylvania man, store owner, sentenced to 44 months in prison for trafficking in counterfeit goods

PHILADELPHIA – A Pennsylvania man was sentenced Wednesday to 44 months in prison for trafficking in counterfeit goods. The sentence was announced by Assistant United States Attorney Arlene D. Fisk, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Yi Ping Zheng, aka "Zheng Yi Ping," aka "Ping X. Zhenh," 48, of Philadelphia, had previously pleaded guilty to the charge in July 2012 before U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno. In addition to the prison term, Judge Robreno ordered Zheng to pay a $2,500 fine, a $100 special assessment and ordered three years of supervised release. As a condition of his release, Zheng is prohibited from owning or operating a retail store.

"Intellectual property theft amounts to economic sabotage," said John Kelleghan, special agent in charge for HSI Philadelphia. "HSI is committed to bringing intellectual property theft violators to justice and ensuring the legitimate copyright holders are protected from individuals who are only motivated by greed."

According to court documents, Zheng was selling counterfeit products out of a store - New Discoveries Handbags, at 643 South Street in Philadelphia. On Dec. 15, 2011, HSI special agents entered the store and seized more than 3,000 pieces of counterfeit merchandise with a manufacturer's retail sales price of approximately $1.25 million. The seized products included purses, handbags, wearing apparel, wallets, sunglasses, scarves, labels, jewelry, watches, umbrellas, key chains and handbag locks for multiple registered trademark holders. The second floor of the store also had machines and devices for attaching trademark protected labels onto counterfeit items.

As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling and distributing counterfeit products. HSI focuses not only on keeping counterfeit products off our streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind such illicit activity.

This investigation was supported by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington. The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting/piracy. As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.

To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.