Newark, N.J.–A Staten Island, New York, man concedes he planned to distribute more than $2.5 million of counterfeit UGG-brand boots that were shipped into the Port of Newark.
This confession is a result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Shi Wei Zheng, 42, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark federal court to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods. HSI special agents arrested Zheng, who was charged by complaint on March 7.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From September 2016 through February 2017, Zheng received certain shipping container numbers from an individual overseas that identified at least three containers containing counterfeit UGG boots. Cheng asked individuals working at the Port of Newark to remove the containers from the port before they could be examined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Once the containers were removed, Zheng directed that they be delivered to other individuals working for him, who would then distribute the boots in New Jersey and elsewhere.
However, before Zheng could distribute the goods, HSI and CBP intercepted the containers, examined their contents, and determined the boots were counterfeit. At no time was Zheng authorized to import authentic or counterfeit UGG merchandise.
In total, Zheng trafficked in over 15,000 pairs of counterfeit UGG boots, with a total estimated retail value of over $2.5 million. Zheng also paid individuals over $50,000 in exchange for the delivery of the containers.
The trafficking in counterfeit goods charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine. Zheng will be sentenced on Jan. 23, 2018.