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Tacoma Company Pleads Guilty for False Declarations on Timber Imports

The company was found violating environmental laws and deceiving customs authorities.

The U.S. Department of Justice
Timber import and export.
Timber import and export.
iStock

Tip the Scale, of Tacoma, Washington, pleaded guilty and was sentenced for making false declarations regarding the species and harvest location of timber used in wooden cabinets and vanities.

Tip the Scale, doing business as L & D Kitchen and Bath, is an importer and seller of various home goods including wooden kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. According to court documents, between January and May of 2020, Tip the Scale imported five shipping containers of wooden cabinets and vanities, all of which were falsely declared. The products, which were harvested and produced in China, were declared as a false species of wood harvested in Malaysia. By doing so, Tip the Scale evaded oversight of Chinese-harvested timber and more than $850,000 in import duties.

The Lacey Act requires that importers of wood products file a declaration which describes the scientific genus and species as well as the harvest country of imports that contain timber. These declarations help stem the flow of protected, illegally logged or misdeclared timber species into the United States. Tip the Scale pleaded guilty to a single felony count of importing goods by means of false statements.

The company was sentenced to pay $360,000 in fines and serve three years of probation. During probation, Tip the Scale is required to implement a mandatory environmental compliance plan audited by a third party. Prior to the sentencing, the company paid more than $850,000 in outstanding duties. The cabinets and vanities were seized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and donated to a local branch of Habitat for Humanity.

HSI Seattle and the USFW Office of Law Enforcement investigated the case. The USFWS National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory conducted forensic testing. CBP also assisted with the case.

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