BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - A New York City husband and wife have been sentenced to prison for participating in a counterfeit sneaker operation.
The Buffalo News reports that Ling Zhen Hu and her husband, Xiao Cheng Lin, appeared Thursday in U.S. District Court in Buffalo, where they pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to import mislabeled items. They were sentenced to six months in prison.
Prosecutors say both helped distribute knock-off Nikes and other footwear, including to Malik Bazzi, who authorities say sold the sneakers to residents in Buffalo and Niagara Falls out of the back of vans, at flea markets, and at clothing stores.
Their attorneys say the Chinese immigrants didn't know they were breaking the law. Hu worked at a New York City sneaker warehouse and her husband sometimes delivered sneakers in his taxi. During the investigation, authorities seized over 310,000 pairs of counterfeit Nikes.
The couple were granted asylum 22 years ago. The newspaper says that because they pleaded guilty, they are unlikely to be deported.
They were caught in September 2007 and arrested along with 21 others.
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