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Florida couple imprisoned for plywood duty evasion, to pay $44 million in fees for seized illegal wood

A Florida couple, Noel and Kelsy Hernandez Quintana, has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison each for their role in a scheme to evade approximately $42 million in duties by disguising the Chinese origin of plywood imports worth between $25 million and $65 million. Following their conviction, the court also ordered the Quintanas to pay a combined total of $44 million in forfeitures and government-incurred storage fees for the seized illegal wood.

The case, prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, highlights the measures the Quintanas took to evade antidumping and countervailing duties mandated on hardwood plywood products originating from China. By misdeclaring the species, country of origin, or harvest country of the wood, the couple managed to import these products into the U.S., thus violating federal laws designed to protect environmental integrity and fair trade practices.

In addition to their prison terms, the Quintanas are required to jointly pay a substantial forfeiture of $42 million, along with $1.6 million to cover storage costs incurred by the government for holding the seized illegal wood. Post-incarceration, they face a three-year supervised release period during which they are barred from any business activities related to importing or exporting products covered by the Lacey Act.

Marta Angelbello, an accomplice in the operation, received a lighter sentence of three years probation, which includes 90 days of home detention, and was fined $3,000.

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