California Judge Dismisses Luxury Handbag Smuggling Case

Kaplan Marino PC victorious after six-year litigation

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 27, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The federal criminal case against two California women accused of smuggling designer handbags worth more than half a million dollars as part of an international scheme ended abruptly Wednesday when the judge dismissed the case.

The government alleged defendants Kelly Ackerman and Alexandra Aiken brought more than 50 luxury Hermès handbags into the country from Europe and Asia by means of false statements. Prosecutors alleged the handbags, a popular brand among the rich and famous, were worth in excess of $10,000 each.

The allegations claimed false customs declarations were submitted in the importation of hundreds of Hermes bags, cheating the government out of significant duties. But the case began collapsing once Ackerman's attorneys at Kaplan Marino, PC, a white collar criminal defense boutique located in Los Angeles, conducted their own investigation and litigated the actual falsity of the declarations.

"The twist came when we filed a motion to dismiss which challenged the materiality requirement for the false statement regarding the bags' actual values to Customs," said Nina Marino, counsel for Ackerman and a Co-Founder of Kaplan Marino.

Along with firm partner Jennifer Lieser and with assistance from San Francisco co- counsel Gail Shifman and Louis Feuchtbaum, Marino pushed the government to drop the charges against the defendants, arguing that the bags still would have entered the United States even if there were no false statements and thus the crimes, as charged, did not actually occur. On Jan. 26, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Northern District of California approved the government's request to fully dismiss its criminal charges, bringing an end to nearly six years of litigation and negotiation. "Marino and Lieser identified and ran with a highly technical issue – clearly obtaining a great result for our client," said partner Richard Kaplan.

"We are delighted that this is how it ended. Every step of the way, we have been dedicated to dialing back this very interesting case," said Marino.

The case was investigated by multiple government agencies including the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Department of Interior U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. The case is United States v. Ackerman in the Northern District of California, (Case No. 18-cr-00118.)

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