Woman smuggled $400K in counterfeit cash

January 30, 2009 1:04:02 PM PST
A Taiwanese woman has been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco to two years and nine months in prison for smuggling $400,000 in counterfeit money to the United States.

Mei Ling Chen, 47, was given the sentence Thursday by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White. White also ordered her to pay a $4,300 fine and $3,200 in restitution to a store where she bought Louis Vuitton bags with counterfeit bills.

U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello said Chen brought $20,000 of the counterfeit money with her on a plane flight to the United States and mailed the remaining $380,000 in fake bills to herself at an address in Sunnyvale.

Russoniello said the counterfeit bills were of a high quality type known as "supernotes" that often go undetected as counterfeit until they reach the Federal Reserve Bank.

He said Chen spent $7,500 of the phony bills.

The sentence was agreed on when Chen pleaded guilty in November to one count of knowingly bringing counterfeit money into the U.S.

Chen's defense attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Jodi Linker, said in a sentencing memorandum that Chen is "extremely remorseful" and that the crime grew out of Chen's economic difficulties following the failure of a restaurant she ran in Taiwan.