General Crime

* Fisherman’s Wharf area business owners have been charged with what some call the largest counterfeiting investigation ever conducted on the West Coast

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Federal authorities in San Francisco have charged several Fisherman’s Wharf-area business owners and employees in what they are calling the largest counterfeiting investigation ever conducted on the West Coast. At a morning news conference in Crissy Field amid tables laden with gaudy fake designer purses, sunglasses, wristwatches and shoes, U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton announced the indictments of 11 merchants and sales clerks.
Russoniello and Morton said a total of 230,000 fake items were seized from shops in the popular tourist hub over the course of the two-year investigation. Items were also confiscated from private homes and storage areas in San Francisco and San Leandro, and from the Port of Oakland. The items, many of which were falsely labeled as Oakley, Nike, Armani, Prada and Louis Vuitton merchandise, appeared to come from China, they said. Eight Fisherman’s Wharf shops were raided and are now closed. Both men emphasized that counterfeiting, in addition to being a crime, is a threat to the U.S. economy. “American business is under assault from counterfeiters and pirates,” Morton said. “Whether it’s in the flea market, stores or over the Internet…intellectual property thieves are undermining the United States’ economy, on a grand scale,” he said. The suspects appeared to have come from China, Russionello said. Two were in the United States illegally, one had been granted asylum and another had a green card. Among those charged were Hui Jin Jen, 41, owner of L&J Fashions and JC Trading Co., and her co-owner Jia Cun Liu; De Le Chen, 40, a clerk at
New CWK Gift Store, and his wife and Jen’s sister Hui Juan Chen, 37, owner of  New CWK Gift Store; and Shelley Xue Hua Lin, 39, owner of New Life Gift Store. The others charged are Ying Hei Lau, 57, who maintained two storage units in San Leandro; Huamin Wu Mei, 54, who paid rent on the storage units; Kan Wen Chong, 44, owner of C&K Gifts, and his wife Xiu Jing Ye, 41, the co-owner; Fernando Viseu, owner of La Bella Boutique and a second unnamed store nearby, and his wife Sok Wa Chong Viseu, 50, who worked at both stores. All live in San Francisco, except, Mei, who lives in San Leandro. The suspects have been charged with conspiracy, smuggling goods into the United States, and trafficking in counterfeit goods. If convicted, they could face extended prison terms and millions of dollars in fines. Russionello said all of the suspects had “a working relationship.”  “It is not happenstance,” he said, “This was a business enterprise that obviously originated overseas.”   
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