Nancy Teresa Gonzalez de Barberi, the 70-year-old Colombian fashion designer renowned for her high-end handbags worn by celebrities like Britney Spears and Victoria Beckham, has pleaded guilty to charges of illegally smuggling bags made from endangered animals like caimans and pythons into the US.
Gonzalez faces a potential five-year prison sentence, with her sentencing scheduled for February. The designer’s lawyer claims that she was unfairly targeted by prosecutors, emphasizing that the majority of her purses were properly documented, and the smuggling charges stem from a failure to obtain paperwork for some samples to meet deadlines.
Gonzalez’s company, Gzuniga, and two employees were also named in the indictment, with one pleading not guilty and another remaining at large. Prosecutors allege that Gonzalez and her company used couriers, including friends and relatives, to smuggle hundreds of designer bags through Miami and New York’s Kennedy Airport without proper documentation, eventually displaying them at the Gzuniga showroom in Manhattan for resale.
Gonzalez was arrested in Colombia last year and spent months in jail before extradition to the US.