COLUMBIA, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney J. STROM THURMOND, JR., stated today that, WILLIAM HASKELL FARMER, age 49, of Travelers Rest, South Carolina, entered a conditional plea of guilty today in federal court in Columbia, South Carolina, to trafficking in clothing with counterfeit Nike and Tommy Hilfiger trademarks and two counts of money laundering conspiracy, violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2320 and 1956(h). The plea came on the fourth day of a jury trial, and after United States District Judge Cameron M. Currie of Columbia ruled that Farmer could not argue his defense to the jury. Farmer will be sentenced after a presentence report is prepared by the U.S. Probation Office. Evidence presented during the trial established that during 1997 and 1998, Farmer obtained blank tee shirts from mills which manufactured shirts for Nike, and then paid to have the shirts either embroidered or screen printed with a Nike trademark. Farmer then sold the shirts to Carolina Apparel Trading, an off-price clothing jobber in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Mark Lewis, the owner of Carolina Apparel Trading, has already been sentenced to five months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release and five months of home confinement. Roy Steve Sutton, who managed Heritage Embroidery of Camden, has pled guilty to trafficking in counterfeit clothing and is awaiting sentencing. Joe Bolin, who owned Dixie Screen Printing of Gaffney, pled guilty to a conspiracy charge but died before he was sentenced. Farmer’s defense was that he did not violate federal trademark law because the shirt on which he placed the Nike trademark had been manufactured for Nike. Judge Currie ruled that it did not matter if the shirt was manufactured for Nike, as long as Nike did not authorize the placing of the mark on the goods, the mark was counterfeit, and thus the Government had established that Farmer violated the law. Mr. Thurmond stated the maximum penalty Farmer can receive is a fine of $3 million and/or imprisonment for 30 years. In addition, Farmer agreed to forfeit over $500,000.00 in cash and cashiers checks seized by United States Customs Service during a search of Farmer’s residence on July 16, 1998, and eight vehicles, including two Mercedes Benzs, two cargo trailers, and numerous pallets of clothing. Finally, all clothing bearing counterfeit trademarks will be destroyed, pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 2320(b). This case was investigated by the United States Customs Service, and Assistant United States Attorney Eric Wm. Ruschky of the Columbia office handled the case.
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