Police confiscate fake designer bags

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

Two Shelbyville wo-men were arrested last week in connection with the sale of counterfeit purses, boots and clothing in Lewisburg, police said.

Lewisburg Police Detective Sgt. David Henley reported that Geneva Lenora Haley Franklin, 61, and Tina Charlene Taylor, 41, both of Baker Street, Shelbyville, were arrested Dec. 29 and charged with criminal simulation, a Class D felony. They will be in General Sessions court on Jan. 24.

"A lot of people are showing up to sell these items," Henley said. "People need to know most of it is not legitimate."

The detective went on to explain that goods like the ones confiscated last week have been sold in Lewisburg at "purse parties" in homes or businesses, or from vehicles in parking lots.

"I had it on my radar" for a while, said Henley, but the chance to arrest someone only came last week.

According to the detective, a Lewisburg woman bought what she thought was a legitimate designer purse, and it started falling apart. The woman called the person she bought it from and asked for her money back. Franklin and Taylor arrived in their 1995 Jeep Cherokee, loaded with purses, footwear presented as Uggs, and parkas offered as North Face coats. Henley was called and told that the pair was there with "what was believed to be counterfeit designer handbags."

"It was loaded," Henley said, describing the SUV, which he said would be seized. The goods inside were photographed and stored as evidence. Henley said the total value of what was in the Jeep was about $5,000 at the prices the women were charging. If all the items had been genuine designer goods, they would have been worth four or five times as much, perhaps $20,000 to $25,000 in retail stores.

Franklin and Taylor voluntarily went to the Police Department for an interview, and told Henley they had been selling the items in Lewisburg, and other towns in Middle Tennessee, for about eight months, on commission for "an individual in Nashville," but stated they thought the goods were "factory seconds" not counterfeit. The items in the Jeep were all identified as counterfeit, and both women were arrested and charged. Their bond was set at $10,000 each.

Uggs - sheepskin-lined boots and shoes, made in Australia - start at $100 for a pair of slippers and go up to $180 and more for tall boots. The company's Web site, www.uggaustralia.com, tells about special labels that genuine Uggs have, and also about the company's effort to combat counterfeiting of its products.

Uggs were the "most searched for apparel item in the four weeks ending Dec. 3," according to a Wall Street Journal article, quoting data from Experian Hitwise, compiled from monitoring the online habits of 10 million U.S. Internet users.

Genuine Coach purses, featuring the "C" monogram, like the two purses in the picture with diamond-shaped patchwork, sell for $198 and more.

Real North Face men's jackets range from $230 to $340, with the Seneka Triclimate jacket priced at $650.

The trade in counterfeit items is everywhere, including the Murfreesboro Police Department, where Detective Sgt. Amy Dean is accused of selling fake Ugg boots and North Face jackets.

According to WKRN-TV Nashville, Dean denied knowing the merchandise was not real, saying she got it from someone in Knoxville.