CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) - A Chapel Hill pastor was arrested Friday after authorities discovered a cache of more than 3,200 counterfeit bracelets, according to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office.
The case is the largest single seizure since the NC Anti-Counterfeit Trademark Task Force was established in 2004.
Rev. JianGang “Frank” Lan, 34, of Chapel Hill was arrested at his church, Deer Park Community Church, officials said. He is charged with felony criminal use of a counterfeit trademark. Lan is being held under $25,000 bond in the Orange County Jail.
CBS 17 spoke with Secretary of State Elaine Marshall on the bust.
“The impact is that everybody loses. The retail stores not only lose business, but their employees lose their jobs,” Marshall said. “The state doesn’t get sales tax, the county doesn’t get sales tax, people just lose up and down the line because of this.”
The knockoff Cartier bracelets have an estimated retail value of $24.4 million, if they were genuine trademarked jewelry.
Lan is an Associate Pastor at Deer Park Community Church on West Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill, according to the church’s website.
Marshall said that Lan’s arrest was linked to a large seizure of fake Cartier bracelets in New Orleans in July.
In that case, 180 pieces of counterfeit Cartier jewelry were seized July 18 from a shipment coming from Hong Kong. If authentic, the jewelry would hold a manufacturer suggested retail price of more than $2.6 million, officials said.
U.S. Homeland Security agents in Louisville, Ky., worked with North Carolina authorities about the counterfeit jewelry, a news release said.
“This is certainly the largest counterfeit seizure we have seen in terms of estimated retail value, and it is a major win for consumers and retailers,” Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall said in a news release Friday. “Counterfeiters peddling fakes of an iconic brand such as Cartier are doing damage not only to that company’s brand, but to legitimate merchants, and to consumer trust in brand quality.”