In April of 2014, we learned that former Nike employees, Tung Ho and Kyle Yamaguchi, were major players in a scheme which generated hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yamaguchi plead guilty to ‘conspiracy to transport, receive and sell stolen goods’ for shipping 42 pairs of stolen sneakers to a buyer in Florida in April 2013 for $62,000.
However, thanks to some great lawyer-ing (and because of his cooperation) he’ll be avoiding jail time altogether. In April of this year, Yamaguchi was sentenced to just five years probation and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service for his part in the stolen sneaker ring.
The man who Yamaguchi sold all of the exclusive Nikes to is Jason Michael Keating, who paid roughly $680,000 for more than 630 limited edition sneakers that were stolen from 2012-2014. He was federally charged along with Ho- thanks to Yamaguchi’s intensive cooperation with the police.
When I say ‘intensive cooperation,’ I mean he wore a wire during a highly profitable sneaker transaction, provided a binder full of evidence, and produced a powerpoint presentation outlining the illegal activity. Homeboy was thorough.
Prosecutors were seeking at least a year in prison for both Keating and Ho, but District Judge Michael H. Simon was lenient, sentencing Keating to six months and Ho to three.
“I’m extremely sorry for what I’ve done,” Keating told Simon during his sentencing hearing. “I want to apologize to Nike. … My greed got the best of me, and I lost sight of right and wrong.”
While working at Nike between 2006-2012, Yamaguchi (the promotional manager at the time) ordered sample pairs from China to Nike’s Beaverton, Oregon headquarters and then flipped them to Keating. Once Yamaguchi left The Swoosh to start his own company, Ho took over his position as promotional manager and he acted as a middleman.
A police raid of Ho’s home last year turned up nearly 2,000 limited Nikes;
Ho told investigators that he made $15,000 selling the shoes on EBay and also sold them through Yamaguchi, court documents said. Ho explained that he would order the sample sneakers from a Nike factory in China and have them shipped to him. He would then negotiate a price with Yamaguchi for the sneakers.
Yamaguchi said Keating pays for the shoes in person or via wire transfers and the payments typically ranged between $5,000 and $30,000 and sometimes could be more, the affidavit said. Keating traveled to Portland for larger payments, making cash withdrawals from several different bank branches to collect the amount he needed for the purchase, the affidavit said. After the payment was made, Yamaguchi said he would then ship the sneakers to Florida.