WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita business owner has asked a federal court to spare her from serving prison time for trafficking in counterfeit luxury items, arguing publicity the case has received serves as a deterrent to future criminal conduct.
The court filing Friday came days before Glenda Sue Morgan is due Monday in U.S. District Court in Wichita for sentencing on one count of trafficking in goods bearing counterfeit trademarks.
Morgan and her Wichita business, The Fabulous Store LLC, were indicted in April on charges of conspiracy and trafficking. In exchange for Morgan’s plea in October, prosecutors agreed to drop at sentencing the remaining charges against her and dismiss the indictment against the store.
“Ms. Morgan is sorry for her actions. Prior to these events, she had no criminal history. She knows that she exercised poor judgment and made a horrible mistake,” her attorney, Sylvia Penner, wrote in the court filing. “However, she has demonstrated regret, acceptance of responsibility, and amenability to probation.”
Prosecutors allege Morgan, 55, sold handbags, wallets, sunglasses and jewelry bearing trademark designs and brand names that were not made by the companies.
Morgan faces a fine of up to $2 million and up to 10 years imprisonment, although she is likely to receive far less, if any, prison time under federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors agreed in the plea deal to recommend a sentence at the low end of the guideline range, including a low-end monetary fine.
Morgan did not profit substantially from her conduct, receiving a modest income of $1,200 a month from the store’s sales, according to the court filing.
“Moreover, the details of the offense conduct and this case have appeared on television, in newspapers and online,” her attorney wrote. “The publicity the case has received affords deterrence from any repeat conduct by Ms. Morgan.”
Morgan has also been sued civilly by Coach, Inc., for allegedly selling phony items bearing its brand name. Penner told the court that settlement negotiations are proceeding in that case, and her attorney argued that the civil lawsuit and any judgment ultimately imposed in it will further serve to deter her client from criminal behavior.
In April, two undercover agents bought about $500 worth of items at the store, including a fake Chanel bracelet and sunglasses, a pair of counterfeit Ugg boots as well as several purses bearing the counterfeited trademarks of Michael Kors, Coach, Luis Vuitton and Prada.
Investigators raided the store nearly two weeks later, seizing 400 replica items with a retail value of $14,000, according to a court document. The goods would have been worth $140,000 had the trademarks been genuine.
The store’s business practices first came to light in 2009 after a postal carrier assigned to the store’s route told the Department of Homeland Security the shop received about six to seven packages a month from China, according to a DHS affidavit. Agents eventually seized nearly 2,600 items that would have been valued at about $1.5 million had they been authentic.