Counterfeiting busts are fairly common in the Fashion District, but a recent ruling puts things at a whole new level: A married couple who owned a clothing shop have been fined $26 million. It is a record in the city.
Officials with City Attorney Mike Feuer admit they will likely never collect the money, but said that Sergio Huerta Falcon and Jonna Garcia, who previously owned TJ Accessories at 310 E. Olympic Ave., will be arrested if found in the Fashion District.
Feuer this month secured a permanent injunction against Falcon and Garcia, following Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Rico’s finding that the defendants had been convicted five times between the two of them for counterfeiting, and that they had been given nine cease-and-desist letters ordering them to stop selling faux items.
“Falcon and Garcia are not deterred by the threat of criminal prosecution,” Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for Feuer, said in an email. “Now law enforcement does not have to prove they are counterfeiting. If they are in the prohibited area, they can be arrested.”
A series of undercover LAPD and FBI investigations resulted in the collection of more than 10,000 fake clothing and other items. Rico assessed the maximum penalty of $2,500 per violation. That works out to $26,245,000.
The city has initiated judgment collection efforts, filing documents with the California Secretary of State and the Los Angeles County Assessor, Mateljan said. Still, he noted, counterfeiters typically run a cash-only business and hide their assets.
“It can be difficult to collect the money,” he said.
Rico prohibited Falcon and Garcia from entering the area bounded by Broadway and Ninth, 16th and San Pedro streets. They are also not allowed to open a clothing, pharmaceuticals or software business in California.
Mateljan pointed out that counterfeit goods can fund gangs and organized crime, and have other impacts.
“Counterfeiters undercut legitimate businesses in Downtown L.A. by selling goods at lower prices than legitimate retailers can offer,” he said.
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2014