Filipina with removal order gets 15-month jail term for illegal work

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Kowloon City Magistrates' Courts

A Filipina tourist who had overstayed for more than three years and illegally worked by selling designer goods with forged trademarks was sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment on Wednesday.

Jessa Millomeda, 30, entered a guilty plea to one count of taking up employment while a removal order was in force at the Kowloon City Courts. She and Atilla Quiao Ma, the owner of a shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, also pleaded guilty to selling and possessing fake luxury items.

Following Millomeda’s guilty plea, Magistrate Ada Yim also sentenced her to 15 months imprisonment for the illegal work, two weeks imprisonment for the sale of counterfeit items, and four weeks for possessing such items. All of the sentences were to run concurrently.

As for Ma, Yim ordered her to return on July 16 for the community service and the probation officer’s reports.

Millomeda and Ma were arrested on Nov. 22 last year in anti-counterfeit operations led by Customs officers.

A representative of Calvin Klein had posed as a customer buying counterfeit goods at Lead Merchandise Services, a shop on the 10th floor of Mirador Mansion in Tsim Sha Tsui. She was accompanied by a Customs officer who waited nearby.

In the shop, the Calvin Klein representative selected an assortment of cosmetics and a counterfeit Gucci shirt. She then asked Millomeda, who was manning the shop, if there was a smaller size of the T-shirt and if there were other products from Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, and Tommy Hilfiger.

Millomeda told her all the goods were on the shelves. The Calvin Klein representative continued to select other counterfeit items in the store: a Coach bag, a Coach wallet, and a Chanel cosmetics set.

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She then asked Millomeda how much all of those items cost and the Filipina said HK$220. The representative then paid her with a marked HK$500 bill.

The representative then met with the Customs officer to confirm the purchase of the fake goods. Shortly after, Customs officers entered the shop and arrested Millomeda.

Ma was also arrested after being identified as the shop owner.

A Customs officer showed Ma a search warrant for the shop. During the search, they found the marked money, the key to the shop, and 169 counterfeit goods worth $48,060.

The fake items include 48 sunglasses, 45 bags, 28 wallets, 19 watches, 11 pairs of shoes, 11 items of clothing, 6 cosmetic sets and 1 perfume, and 7 assorted brand cosmetic products.

Under caution, Millomeda said Ma was her friend and the shop owner but added that she was just helping Ma with transactions. Ma also reiterated that Millomeda was her friend, adding that they were just meeting, and denied owning the counterfeit goods in the shop.

A record check revealed that Millomeda surrendered to the Immigration Department on Jan. 7, 2019, after overstaying as a tourist since May 2018. She was released on recognisance on Feb. 27, 2019.

Millomeda was issued a removal order on Apr. 29, 2019, and it was served to her seven days later.

Her counsel, during mitigation, said Millomeda had applied for a nonrefoulement claim in Jan. 2019 but is planning to withdraw the application amid a pending custodial sentence.