Joint investigation leads to discovery of counterfeit goods

Joint investigation leads to discovery of counterfeit goods (Reporter: Amanda Brannon)

PITT COUNTY - On January 9th, detectives with the Pitt County Sheriff's Office and the Secretary of State's Office conducted a joint investigation into the selling of counterfeit products in Pitt County.

Officials said their search of the flea market next to East Carolina Stockyard resulted in the arrest of Bobby Ray Manning. He was charged with felony possession of counterfeit/pirated recordings. Manning was found to be in the possession of 88 pirated DVD movies and 94 pirated music CD's, according to deputies. A second table containing 46 counterfeit DVD's and CD's were found abandoned, deputies said. According to deputies, Manning was arrested for a similar crime in 2010.

Also, authorities said that during a walk through at the Greenville Mall, members of the task force located counterfeit goods at two separate kiosks. Silverado Jewelry was found to be in the possession of one counterfeit Casio G-Shock watch and jewelry, according to law enforcement. Perfume and Fashions was also found to be in the possession of ten counterfeit Casio G-Shock watches and 12 pair of Chanel earrings, officials said. Both businesses voluntarily surrendered the counterfeit items for destruction and were put on notice by the Secretary of State's Office, according to law enforcement.

"Somebody came in and asked my employee for some fake G-shock thing going on and he find just one G-shock and I'm sure that's not mine. Maybe somebody exchanged it or bought it from somebody," Abdenbi Rafih, owner of Silverado Jewelry said.

Rafih believes this whole situation is a mistake because authorities only found one watch, as opposed to finding several.

"Well, I don't want this to happen because it's not good for the economy and it's not good for my business too you know," Rafih said.

An inspection of Tobacco Plus at 4125 Old Tar Road resulted in the seizure of 35 prescription boxes of contact lenses, 21 individual packs of prescription contact lenses, as well as, counterfeit Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and Heineken products, deputies said.

An employee told NewsChannel 12 off-camera, the products were grinders used to grind up tobacco. The employee said he had no idea the items were counterfeit.

The counterfeit items were voluntarily surrendered for destruction and the business was put on notice by the Secretary of State's Office, according to deputies.

The task force said they also seized eight counterfeit NFL Nike Jersey's and one MLB Majestic Jersey from Phillip Robert Turnex.  Authorities said Turnex is an ECU student and was issued a misdemeanor citation. Authorities said he was selling the goods through craigslist.

Sheriff Neil Elks said the kiosk store owners and the owner of Tobacco plus were not issued citations. However, he warns retailers to be careful of who they are getting their merchandise from, especially if they are a distributor that they have never heard of.

Sheriff Elks said the investigation into the counterfeit goods is ongoing and more arrests are possible. He said he has one message for shoppers.

"So the old saying if it's too good to be true at that price then it probably is and it's a fake item," he said.

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