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State Dept. Employee and Spouse Indicted on Charges of Trafficking Counterfeit Handbags

The couple allegedly sold counterfeit handbags online for over two years using a government computer.

The Justice Department arrested a State Department employee and his wife on Wednesday for allegedly trafficking counterfeit handbags internationally using a government computer.

Gene Leroy Thompson Jr., an information programs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, and his wife Guojiao “Becky” Zhang were indicted by a grand jury in Eugene, Oregon. They allegedly sold counterfeit Vera Bradley handbags from platforms such as eBay, Poshmark, and Mercari to people throughout the United States from September 2017 to December 2019.

“Thompson Jr. used his State Department computer to create numerous accounts on a variety of e-commerce platforms, all from within a secure space within the embassy designed to protect classified information,” according to the Justice Department. “Once Thompson Jr. created these accounts, Zhang took primary responsibility for operating the accounts, communicating with customers, and procuring merchandise to be stored in the District of Oregon. Thompson Jr. and Zhang also directed a co-conspirator in the District of Oregon to ship items to purchasers across the United States.”  

Thompson and Zhang were charged on one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and two counts for trafficking such goods. If convicted on one or more of these charges, the couple must forfeit any proceeds of property obtained directly or indirectly from these activities to the government. 

The investigation leading to the indictment was a joint effort by the State and Justice departments, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.