Bellevue man sentenced to a year in prison for fraudulent honey imports
By NAT LEVY
Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer
December 22, 2010 · Updated 10:56 AM
A 70-year-old Bellevue man was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Seattle to a year in prison Monday for his role in counterfeit honey imports.
Chung Po Liu admitted in September to consistently repackaging honey imported from China to appear from another country, saving him nearly $3 million in additional taxes.
Liu was arrested in May 2009 and charged as part of a federal investigation on falsified honey imports into the U.S.
"In an attempt to avoid paying millions of dollars in anti-dumping import duties, the defendant not only misled the federal government, he knowingly deceived the American public by allowing shipments of tainted Chinese honey, which contained banned substances, to enter our nation’s food supply," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Seattle.
In the plea agreement, Liu admitted that a shipment of Chinese honey that arrived at the Port of Seattle in 2008, was contaminated with the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin, an unsafe food additive and caused the honey to be adulterated, according to a Department of Justice press release.
According to records filed in the case, Liu, through his companies Rainier Cascade and Evergreen Produce, purchased honey from China which was then shipped to the Philippines and Thailand where it was re-labeled to make it appear as a product from these countries. When the honey arrived in the United States, Liu told U.S. Customs officials the honey was the product of either the Philippines or Thailand.
Because of his false declarations about the true origins of the honey, Liu avoided $2.9 million in tariffs on the Chinese honey. Liu made approximately $200,000 in gross profit on a total of 22 re-labeled shipments between 2005 and 2008.
In addition to his jail time, Liu was forced to pay $400,000 in restitution (twice his profit from the shipments) and will face six additional months of home detention following his release from prison.
“There is an economic and a personal cost to committing this crime," said U.S. District Court Judge James L. Robart during sentencing.Contact Bellevue Reporter Staff Writer Nat Levy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-453-4290.