CALIFORNIA—The United States Department of Justice announced on Friday, March 19 that Chu-Chiang Ho, 44, has been sentenced by a United States District Court for 18 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $1.7 million for illegally smuggling automobile headlights from China that he knew did not meet the safety requirements.
Ho, also known as Kevin Ho, admitted that he knew the headlights and the headlight kits created “public safety hazards” because they emitted a “much brighter light than conventional headlights,” stated the Justice Department in a news release.
“In his plea agreement,” per the news release, “Ho admitted that in October 2005 he reported to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that the High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights he imported from China were too bright and did not meet regulatory photometric requirements.”
Ho confessed to the authorities that he subsequently stopped selling all illegal headlights and for the next 13 years “smuggled these illegal parts into the United States and sold them through websites he controlled, including HIDExtra.com, kalex.us, and opt7.com,” the authorities noted.
The authorities indicated that Ho tried to conceal his “schemes” by working with the suppliers to “mischaracterize the merchandise he imported in documents provided to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to deceive that agency into believing the merchandise was legal.”
The federal government said that Ho changed the company names intermittently to evade detection from the American authorities.
The U.S. Department of Justice indicated Ho used the names of his family members to list as corporate officers of his company in name only, while maintaining control over the business.
“Ho admitted that he profited from his scheme and used the proceeds of the illegal HID Kits to assist in his purchase of various properties in the Bay Area. He admitted that at least $1.7 million in proceeds from his sales is traceable to products he illegally smuggled into the United States,” states the press release.
On March 14, 2019, a federal grand jury voted to indict Ho with seven counts of smuggling illegal headlights. As a result of the plea agreement, Ho pleaded guilty to one count and the U.S. dismissed the other charges.
The federal authorities noted that U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar ordered Ho to three years of supervised release after he serves a prison term of 18 months and forfeits $1.7 million. He remains out of custody on bond and is ordered to begin his prison sentence on April 27, 2021.