Fake merchandise seized from flea markets

Published 8:29 am Wednesday, February 14, 2007

By Staff
Two Beaufort County residents charged
More than $250,000 worth of counterfeit merchandise was seized by the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office over the weekend from 17 people, including three from Beaufort County.
The sheriff’s office in conjunction with the N.C. Anti-Counterfeit Trademark Task Force raided two flea markets and several Greenville businesses Friday, Saturday and Sunday, according to a press release. Ten people were charged after the raids and several more are still under investigation. Four individuals face felony charges and six were charged with misdemeanors, according to a press release.
William Shinn Jones of 125 Trails End, Washington, was selling counterfeit game consoles Saturday at the East Carolina Stockyard Flea Market in Ayden, according to a press release. About $50,000 worth of merchandise was seized by investigators. Detective Robert Daugherty with the sheriff’s office in Pitt County said Jones has not been charged, but is still under investigation.
Representatives with the Entertainment Software Association were present during the raids to evaluate Jones’ video-game equipment. Daugherty said they determined his merchandise counterfeit.
Jones was selling game consoles “that were made over in China and looked like the Nintendo handheld units,” Daugherty said. “On these units he … had … games loaded on them,” he said.
Loading copyrighted games onto a counterfeit console is illegal, Daugherty said. “He’s stealing from these companies. It’s illegal to have anything like that.”
Daugherty said possessing one of these units is not illegal, unless a person has 25 or more.
Maria Luminosa Castro of 5659 Sandy Ridge Road, Washington, and Steve Amos Parker of 393A Bennett Road, Chocowinity, were charged with criminal use of a counterfeit trademark Sunday at the Poor Man’s Flea Market on U.S. Highway 264 between Washington and Greenville, according to a press release.
Investigators seized $592 worth of counterfeit Latin CDs from Castro. A total of $112 in counterfeit NASCAR caps and Git-R-Done gloves were seized from Parker.
Daugherty said counterfeit items are made to look like brand-name items. Sometimes the boxes and items can include the product name and the company’s logo. “It looks like a legitimate item, but it’s been smuggled over into the country,” he said.
The manager of the Poor Man’s Flea Market was also charged with failing to maintain records, Daugherty said. “She is required, according to the N.C. General Statute, to record who comes and sells at the flea market. She was not doing that. She didn’t have any records at all,” he said.
When asked if the manager could have prevented the distribution of counterfeit items by keeping daily records, Daugherty said, “Her charge didn’t have anything to do with the counterfeit charges.”
Castro, Parker and Jones are expected to appear in court in Pitt County on March 12, Daugherty said.