State department employee sentenced to prison for trafficking in counterfeit goods from U.S. Embassy

EUGENE, Ore. — A U.S. Department of State employee and his spouse were sentenced Thursday for their roles in an international conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Gene Leroy Thompson Jr., 54, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. Thompson Jr.’s wife, Guojiao “Becky” Zhang, 40, was sentenced to three years’ supervised release to include 8 months of home detention. Thompson Jr. and Zhang were also ordered to forfeit a combined total of $229,302 and pay $740 in restitution.

Thompson and Zhang previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods on Dec. 20. 2020.

According to court documents, Thompson Jr. was an Information Programs Officer employed by the Department of State at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, a position that required him to maintain a security clearance. Zhang resided with him in Seoul. Between September 2017 and December 2019, Thompson Jr. and Zhang sold counterfeit goods on a variety of e-commerce platforms.

Thompson Jr. and Zhang conspired with one another to sell counterfeit Vera Bradley handbags from e-commerce accounts to persons throughout the United States. Thompson Jr. used his State Department computer to create numerous accounts on a variety of e-commerce platforms. Once Thompson Jr. created these accounts, Zhang took primary responsibility for operating the accounts, communicating with customers, and procuring counterfeit merchandise to be stored in Oregon. Thompson Jr. and Zhang also directed a co-conspirator in Oregon to ship items to purchasers across the United States.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon; Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Todd J. Brown of the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) made the announcement.

The case was investigated by the DSS Office of Special Investigations with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Potter of the District of Oregon, Senior Counsel Frank Lin of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, and Trial Attorney Jay Bauer of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.

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