Guildmaster pleads guilty in counterfeit UL sticker case, receives probation
Jenny Heinzen York -- Home Accents Today, 8/1/2013 2:00:00 AM
Springfield, mo.-based Guildmaster pleaded guilty in federal court last month to importing thousands of lamps from its manufacturer in China bearing counterfeit Underwriters Laboratories certification labels. The plea will result in five years of probation, in addition to the forfeiture of the more than 5,000 lamps that were seized during the investigation.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri, Guildmaster, represented in court by company president Stephen Crowder, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to the felony offense of trafficking in goods with counterfeit marks.
Under the terms of the binding plea agreement, Guildmaster forfeits to the government the more than 5,000 lamps that were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, valued at approximately $1.83 million. Guildmaster will be placed on a five-year term of unsupervised probation and will face no further penalties.
"The stickers were applied by the employees of Yangming, a China lamp manufacturer which was purchased by our Hong Kong trading company two months prior to the seizures. It was important to us that we take responsibility for their actions and we are pleased to bring this matter to a close," said Crowder in a statement released by Guildmaster. No U.S.-based employees, officers or directors were accused or charged with any offense, the statement continued.
Guildmaster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2012 after the federal indictment was filed. The company was granted an extension for its bankruptcy reorganization through Aug. 10 of this year.
"Guildmaster is going to continue to operate with total integrity and transparency as we focus our full attention on creating new products for the upcoming markets," Crowder said. "This resolution allows us to get back to what we do best: serving our customers and ensuring the highest quality home furnishings on the market."
According to the statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office: "In December 2011, U.S. Customs and Border Protection discovered that lamps imported by Guildmaster bore counterfeit UL labels. UL is an independent product safety certification organization accredited for safety testing by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. For lamps meeting UL safety requirements, manufacturers are authorized to affix labels bearing the words ‘Portable Luminaire' and featuring the UL mark. The use of this ‘Portable Luminaire' label with the UL mark is the manufacturer's representation and advertisement to the public that the lamp as a whole was certified by UL as meeting UL's safety requirements.
"Federal agents began to intercept and seize shipments of Guildmaster lamps bearing counterfeit UL labels. Between Jan. 10 and March 21, 2012 agents seized 10 shipments originating from Dongguan, China, bound for Guildmaster in Springfield. They also executed a search and seizure warrant at Guildmaster's business office and warehouse in Springfield. The seizures contained an approximate total of 5,018 lamps bearing the counterfeit ‘Portable Luminaire' labels with UL marks. Also, in three seizures a total of approximately 567 lamps were seized that were affixed with genuine but unauthorized ‘Portable Luminaire' labels bearing the UL Mark, which had been provided by UL to another company for its exclusive use and were not authorized for Guildmaster's use."
The lamps had remained in a federal holding center since the seizure.
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