Police bust counterfeiters
By Brian STANLEY Bstanley@stmedianetwork.com August 12, 2012 9:06PM
Joliet Police officers Rick Raasch (top), Kevin Sepulveda and Jeff Fornoff stack boxes filled with counterfeit purses in the auxiliary evidence room Sunday afternoon. The rack on the right was empty before police seized hundreds of bootleg designer bags being sold at Montana Charlie's Flea Market in Bolingbrook. | Brian Stanley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 12, 2012 1:27AM
BOLINGBROOK — Some fashion fans might argue, but Joliet Police Officer Jeff Fornoff believes there’s such a thing as too many purses.
After Joliet detectives and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents seized designer counterfeits from a flea market Sunday, the evidence officer had to decide where to store 12 vanloads of bogus bags.
“It’s a lot. I haven’t been able to total up everything as it’s come in,” Fornoff said Sunday afternoon as officers stacked storage boxes on carts and handtrucks at the auxiliary evidence vault behind city hall.
Detective Sgt. Darrell Gavin said police were contacted by Edward R. Kirby & Associates, a private investigations firm, after manufacturers received complaints about the shoddy quality of some merchandise. The Elmhurst company handles copyright protection for various designers.
“This long-term investigation learned the items were being sold at Montana Charlie’s Flea Market on Route 53,” Gavin said.
On Sunday morning, undercover detectives and private investigators went to the flea market to pinpoint which booths were selling counterfeit items. Joliet detectives, ICE agents and Bolingbrook officers raided the market at 10:45 a.m. and took nine people into custody.
In addition to $4,000, police found phony purses that appeared to be made by Michael Kors, Dolce and Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Ed Hardy, Jimmy Choo, Coach, Chanel and Burberry.
Police took 10 vehicles belonging to suspects that were impounded and had allegedly contained purses. Other boxes were loaded into three police vehicles.
Police also seized some counterfeit sunglasses and “sports jerseys for every major team”, as well as designer emblems that could be put on other unmarked knockoffs, Gavin said.
Shaojian Zhu, 41, of Woodridge; Roberto Diaz, 63, of Plainfield; Victor Melo, 48, of Chicago; Li Fen Li, 60, of Vernon Hills; Dongmei Pan, 41, of Bolingbrook; Brian Savage, 40, of Oak Forest; Peter Lee, 78, of Naperville; Shifu Dong, 52, of Downers Grove, and Zhihua Li, 44, of Bolingbrook, were arrested on charges of violating the counterfeit trademark act.