Two New York state residents — Chenglan Hu, 52, and Hau Fei Zhang, 53 — pleaded guilty Wednesday to importing more than 100,000 counterfeit and hazardous children’s toys from China for sale in the United States, the U.S. Justice Department said.
“The defendants made millions importing dangerous, knock-off toys that put children in harm’s way,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell in a statement. “The defendants used a continuously shifting series of corporate entities in an effort to stay one step ahead of law enforcement.”
Hu and Zhang were the last of nine defendants to plead guilty in the investigation. The Justice Department said Guan Jun Zhang, Jun Wu Zhang, and five corporations — Family Product USA Inc., H.M. Import USA Corp., ZCY Trading Corp., Zone Import Corp. and ZY Wholesale Inc. — previously pleaded guilty to Consumer Product Safety Act and trademark counterfeiting charges.
In pleading guilty to trafficking in hazardous consumer goods in violation of CPSA, Hu and Zhang also agreed to forfeit $700,000 and more than 120,000 unsafe children’s toys. The federal government previously seized three luxury vehicles and six bank accounts, and filed lis pendens
against two properties owned by Zhang in Queens, N.Y.
According to court filings and facts presented at the plea hearings, from July 2005 through January 2013, Hu, Zhang and the other individual defendants used the companies they owned to import and sell toys from China from a storefront and warehouse in Ridgewood, N.Y., and other locations in Brooklyn and Queens, N.Y.
Customs and Border Protection seized toys imported by the defendants from shipping containers entering the United States from China on 33 separate occasions, the Justice Department said.