Equipment designer Nancy González pleaded responsible Friday to federal costs for illegally importing python and alligator skins into the US from Colombia.
After being charged by the US Division of Justice with unlawful smuggling and conspiracy, González, who’s a Colombian citizen, was extradited earlier this 12 months to the US from Colombia in a joint effort between US and Colombian authorities.
Gzuniga Ltd., the Colombia-based firm that González began, was additionally named within the indictment, as have been two different folks. His authorized crew pleaded responsible to 1 depend of conspiracy and two counts of smuggling for the repeated unlawful importation of designer purses produced from alligator and python pores and skin from February 2016 to April 2019.
In compliance with the Conference on Worldwide Commerce in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which each the US and Colombia are signatories, python and alligator pores and skin is protected.
The designer’s unique leather-based baggage have attracted a star clientele, together with high-profile fashion figures equivalent to Victoria Beckham. As an indication of her model’s status, it was talked about within the 2006 American movie “The Satan Wears Prada,” when Anne Hathaway’s assistant character acquired a significant vogue overhaul, and González’s signature purses additionally appeared within the movie. 2010’s “Intercourse And The Metropolis 2.” González’s designs have been at one time a key asset at 300 main luxurious shops, together with Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lane Crawford, Harrods and Tsum.
Based in 1998 by González, a mom of two, the corporate’s first assortment (eight types) debuted at Bergdorf Goodman. Her firm’s web site claimed that the baggage got here from native artisans in her hometown of Cali, Colombia, and that the majority members of her all-female crew acquired day take care of her kids.
His son Santiago Barberi González, who died in 2017 at age 40, co-founded the corporate and served as president and CEO. The posh equipment model specialised in vibrantly coloured types and ventured into collaborations with some high artists together with KAWS, Will Cotton, Jenny Holzer, Dr. Lakra and Jim Hodges.
Gonzalez’s legal professional, Sam Rabin of Rabin & Lopez, stated Monday that Gonzalez had pleaded responsible “instantly earlier than his choose somewhat than negotiating with prosecutors. She did it as a result of she has religion in our courts, however not within the Division of Justice and her prosecutors, who’ve handled her extra unfairly. She shot a mosquito the equal of an elephant gun, when a fly swatter would have sufficed.”
Rabin additionally claimed that actions taken by the federal government resulted in González “being unnecessarily imprisoned in Colombia with drug traffickers and terrorists for greater than a 12 months whereas awaiting extradition to the US, being pushed out of the enterprise, and her tons of of staff turning into unemployed.”
Rabin acknowledged by e mail: “Their crime was failing to acquire correct documentation for some samples so they may meet deadlines for getting their merchandise to patrons’ festivals. All baggage offered in retail shops have been correctly documented. Lower than 1 p.c of their wallets have been imported with out documentation. Not one of the animal skins used of their merchandise got here from animals caught within the wild. The skins got here from animals raised on farms to make sure they didn’t have an effect on the animal inhabitants within the wild.”
Gonzalez and the opposite defendants pleaded responsible Friday in the US District Court docket within the Southern District of Florida. They’re due again in courtroom for sentencing on February 5. The 70-year-old designer probably faces as much as 5 years in jail on the conspiracy cost and as much as 20 years in jail on every of the smuggling costs, which may very well be adopted by a interval of supervised launch.
Gonzalez additionally faces attainable fines of as much as $250,000 for every depend, or twice the anticipated earnings from the related conduct, whichever is larger. Moreover, Gzuniga faces attainable fines of $500,000 for every of the three counts of conviction, or twice the anticipated acquire from the related conduct, whichever is larger.
González and the opposite defendants allegedly requested associates, household, and staff of their manufacturing firm in Colombia to behave as couriers and transport the designer baggage by carrying them or of their baggage whereas touring on industrial airways. After arriving in the US, the designer baggage have been allegedly delivered or shipped to Gzuniga’s showroom in Manhattan, the place high-end retailers might buy them to promote of their respective shops. Federal prosecutors have claimed the conduct concerned “tons of” of Nancy Gonzalez’s purses, purses and purses with a mean retail value of greater than $2,000.
One other defendant within the case was additionally extradited from Colombia and is awaiting trial. A fourth defendant just isn’t presently in custody.
In July 2022, a dramatic video set to music beforehand tweeted by Colombia’s legal professional basic confirmed González being escorted by authorities from a luxurious enclave in Cali. The Legal professional Normal’s Workplace stated the mission was the primary of its form in Latin America coping with unique pores and skin equipment.
Friday’s responsible pleas have been revealed by U.S. Legal professional Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Legal professional Normal Todd Kim of the Division of Justice’s Setting and Pure Assets Division and Particular Agent in Cost Stephen Clark of the authorized workplace of the US Fish and Wildlife Service regulation enforcement, Southeast area.
Within the meantime, shoppers can discover Nancy González baggage on resale websites like Poshmark, The RealReal, and Fashionphile, amongst others, lots of them at discounted costs.