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Raid nets $100,000 in counterfeit sports clothing
By Andrew Hickey
Staff writer


DANVERS — Detectives yesterday seized nearly $100,000 in phony sports apparel from a Liberty Tree Mall store and charged the shop's owner with counterfeiting.

Alan Katz, 54, of 13 Mall St., Salem, has owned Sports & More in the mall for about eight years. When detectives raided the store yesterday they found hundreds of counterfeit items, from Michael Jordan jerseys and Tom Brady caps to Celtics jackets and homemade Red Sox sweatshirts.

Germano said police learned last month that Katz was selling the counterfeit clothing — sometimes for up to $350 per jersey. The department received a tip from Trademark Management, a national company that enforces copyright and trademark laws for all major pro sports organizations, such as the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball.

Acting on that tip, Detective Stephen Baldassare went to the store, near Best Buy, and bought a fake Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey. Though the shirt was marked $350, Baldassare talked Katz down to $160.

"You can barter in that store," he said.

What made the garment fake, Baldassare said, was that it featured a sewn-on tag from Mitchell & Ness, one of the nation's leading makers of throwback, or old-style, jerseys. Mitchell & Ness, however, is not authorized to produce Michael Jordan jerseys, according to police and the Mitchell & Ness Web site.

Also, the knockoff shirt had tags with the NBA logo saying it was authentic and licensed. The tag even featured an NBA hologram, though it was peeling off. The jersey was a size 58, which Mitchell & Ness doesn't make.

Legitimate Mitchell & Ness jerseys typically sell for between $400 and $500 retail.

Baldassare sent the jersey to Trademark Management, who verified that the shirt was an imposter. Detectives wrote up a search warrant and went to Sports & More yesterday with William Mock, a Trademark Management investigator.

What they found was between $75,000 and $100,000 worth of phony clothing, Germano said, adding there could still be more in the store.

Along with 147 fake Mitchell & Ness jerseys, detectives found bootlegged clothing bearing Nike and Starter tags and emblems. It took five officers and a large pickup truck to transport all of the seized clothing to the police station.

Katz said most of the goods were bought at flea markets and from private sellers. He admitted to printing up Red Sox World Series sweatshirts and pawning them off as authentic, Baldassare said.

At the Danvers police station yesterday, a long table overflowed with the bogus merchandise — Jordan jerseys of every color, Yankees and Red Sox hats, old-school Patriots shirts and dozens of bootlegged sports highlight videos. Other players' jerseys included Pedro Martinez, Carmelo Anthony, Julius Erving, Kevin Garnett and Isiah Thomas. The items ranged in price from $15 to $350.

To the naked eye, most of it looked legitimate and the materials appeared high-quality.

"I wouldn't have known they were counterfeit if I wasn't told," said Detective Sgt. Carole Germano.

Sports & More was in darkness yesterday with the security gate closed and locked. Red and blue banners exclaiming "Go Patriots!" hung in the window alongside other Patriots goods. Germano said the store would likely remain closed temporarily.

Germano said police have no way to determine how much in bogus merchandise Katz has sold or how much money he has made. Investigators also didn't know how much Katz paid for the counterfeits.

"People are going to be upset if they purchased something counterfeit from that store," Germano said. "You're not getting what you're paying for."

Katz was released on $1,000 cash bail and will likely be arraigned Monday in Salem District Court.

Investigators said Katz faced similar charges brought by state police in 2001 for printing up phony Red Sox shirts. He was found guilty and paid a fine.
 

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Everytime I've ever been in there I always say to my GF this crap is all fake. I knew I was right. They probably haven't even looked at the autographs he has yet. If those are fake they are covered under federal law. :-D

Scott :rock:
 

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The most interesting thing about the apparel........................

It had NEMLEC logo on it!
:shock:
 

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The real crime :
"Legitimate Mitchell & Ness jerseys typically sell for between $400 and $500 retail. "
Come on now...that's even nuttier.
 
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