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Brian Luke Community Blogger, WGRZ-TV

Friday, November 5, 2010

2 Missouri men plead guilty to trafficking counterfeit goods

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Two local men pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to trafficking in counterfeit goods after federal agents seized hundreds of pairs of counterfeit Nike shoes and other counterfeit apparel from them. The guilty pleas resulted from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.

Brent Darrell Luna, 25, of Nixa, Mo., and Lukas Antonio Rivas, 21, of Springfield, Mo., pleaded guilty in separate hearings Nov. 4 to the charges contained in a July 28 federal indictment.

Luna and Rivas admitted that they sold counterfeit Nike athletic shoes and other counterfeit items at Luna's Springfield store, 417 Urban Trendz. Undercover police officers purchased shoes and other items from Luna and Rivas on several occasions. Luna opened 417 Urban Trendz after he was released from state prison in July 2008. Prior to the store's opening, the counterfeit goods were sold at other locations.

According to Luna's plea agreement, during a call that was recorded while he was incarcerated on an unrelated state offense, Luna indicated that he had invested $75,000 in purchasing the shoes and other items from a supplier in China. Luna also referred to $29,000 worth of inventory that was stored in his garage.

To avoid customs declarations or paying custom duties, Luna ordered the shoes via the Internet in small shipments of seven pairs. The shipments were sent to different residences and labeled as gifts. Rivas received between 20 and 30 shipments of shoes at his residence.

By pleading guilty Nov. 4, Luna and Rivas also agreed to forfeit to the government all the seized counterfeit goods, which included the following items: more than 600 pairs of Nike athletic shoes; 20 pairs of Timberland shoes; 45 National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) jerseys; 67 Major League Baseball (MLB) hats; dozens of jeans, shirts, belts, shoes, hoodies, and other merchandise bearing counterfeit logos from luxury brands; and $3,448.

Under federal statutes, Luna and Rivas each face up to 10 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $2 million and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a pre-sentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert, Western District of Missouri, is prosecuting the case.

Anyone with information related to counterfeit merchandise is encouraged to contact law enforcement. The public may also call ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1 (866) DHS-2ICE.

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