HOUSTON — A federal judge has delayed a fraud trial against the former president of tire importer/distributor Winland International Inc. and seven other individuals until Feb. 13, 2023.
The case dates from December 2020, when a federal grand jury in Houston indicted Miranda Zhou, the seven individuals and Winland International (d.b.a. Super Tire) for being involved in an importing scheme designed to dodge millions of dollars in anti-dumping duties.
The case, being heard in the Federal Court, Southern District of Texas, was scheduled to go to trial Sept. 19. Instead, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett granted the defense a delay until Feb. 13, stating the court "finds that … failure to grant a continuance would result in the miscarriage of justice, and that a continuance is necessary to allow reasonable time for trial preparation."
Zhao pleaded not guilty to the charges in a hearing on Dec. 16, 2020. She has surrendered her passport and posted bail.
Authorities allege in the government's case that the defendants avoided paying anti-dumping duties for approximately 10 years, from 2008 to 2018, on off-the-road, light vehicle and truck tires imported from China by falsifying invoices and records of tires they imported with the identities of Chinese tire companies that were subject to lower duties than the actual manufacturers.
Records also allegedly were falsified to understate the value of the tires, a move that also lowered the duties owed.
The U.S. attorney said at least $20.9 million worth of tires were involved and the U.S. missed out on more than $6.5 million in duties.
Others charged in the case include: Kun "Bruce" Liu, 40, of Sugar Land, Texas; and Qinghua "Shirley" Song, 44, of Jurupa Valley, Calif.; and Chinese residents Yue "Joanna" Peng, 42, Li "Cathy" Chen, 38, Xin "Devin" Zhang, age unknown, Shaohui "Jasper" Jia, 40, and Deng "David" Yongqiang, 36.
Liu was listed as a vice president of Winland; the others are listed as either employees of Chinese tire makers or agents of Winland.