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Woman sentenced for selling counterfeit Cisco equipment

The Virginia defendant is sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay $2.7 million in restitution

A Virginia woman was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for leading a "sophisticated" conspiracy to import and sell counterfeit Cisco Systems networking equipment, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

In addition to the prison time, Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia also ordered Chun-Yu Zhao, 43, of Chantilly, Virginia, to pay US$2.7 million restitution and a $17,500 fine.

Lee also stripped Zhao, from China, of her U.S. citizenship and ordered her to forfeit four homes in Maryland and northern Virginia, three condominiums in Chantilly, a Porsche Boxster, a Porsche Cayenne, a Mercedes sedan and seven bank accounts containing more than $1.6 million.

Zhao used several aliases, including Chun Zhao Cone, Chun Yu Cone, Jessie Washington, Jessica Cell, Jessica Gibbs, Jessica Nee, Jessica Lee, Dan Luo, Jessica Sampson and Jessica Smith, according to her August 2010 indictment. She ran a business called JDC Networking.

In May, a jury convicted Zhao of 16 felony counts, including conspiracy to commit importation fraud and to deal in counterfeit goods, importation fraud, dealing in counterfeit goods, obtaining citizenship by fraud, making false statements to law enforcement and money laundering.

Zhao and her family members and other co-conspirators in China agreed to lie on declaration forms and to sell shipments of counterfeit Cisco-branded networking equipment, according to court documents. Zhao and her co-conspirators used counterfeit labels and packaging to mislead consumers into believing that they were purchasing genuine Cisco products, the DOJ said.

Zhao and her co-conspirators hid millions of dollars from the counterfeiting operation through a web of bank accounts and real estate held in the names of Zhao's family members, the DOJ said. Zhao also fraudulently obtained U.S. citizenship based on lies on her citizenship application, the agency said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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Tags U.S. Department of JusticeU.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginiacopyrightintellectual propertylegalJDC NetworkingGerald Bruce LeeChun-Yu ZhaoCriminalCisco Systems

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