Bessemer Man Indicted for Selling Counterfeit Designer Goods
BIRMINGHAM – A federal grand jury today indicted a Bessemer man for selling counterfeit designer handbags, wallets, shoes and other accessories from a tent in Midfield, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation’s Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr.
An indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges DARRYL EUGENE HOOPER, 46, with two counts of trafficking in counterfeited goods and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, a .38-caliber Charter Arms revolver. HSI agents seized from Hooper more than $110,000 worth of knock-off merchandise being sold as top-name labels including: Louis Vuitton Malletier, Nike, Coach, Ralph Lauren Polo, Gucci, Michael Kors, Timberland, Rocawear, and Prada.
Violating criminal laws that protect copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets is considered theft of intellectual property.
“The assumption that someone can copy someone else’s idea or product and profit from it is nothing more than a high-brow form of theft,” Vance said. “Those who traffic in counterfeit goods harm the American economy as well as the consumers who purchase the substandard merchandise,” she said. “The Department of Justice and my office are working hard to protect American businesses and consumers from the damaging effects of intellectual property crime.”
“Every dollar that goes to a counterfeit retailer is a dollar stolen from legitimate businesses that employ workers, pay taxes and contribute to the overall health of our nation’s economy,” said Parmer, whose HSI office in New Orleans oversees a five-state region including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. “Counterfeit goods harm businesses, workers and consumers, and HSI will continue to vigilantly investigate and prosecute criminals who threaten our nation’s economic well-being,” he said.
The indictment charges Hooper with selling the counterfeited merchandise on July 6 and Sept. 28. He is charged with the illegal gun possession on Sept. 28. The convicted felon in possession charge is based on Hooper’s Dec. 7, 2000, conviction in Jefferson County Circuit Court for distribution of a controlled substance, according to the indictment.
Trafficking in counterfeit goods carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine. Possessing a firearm as a convicted felon carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
ICE-HSI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael W. Whisonant Sr. is prosecuting.
Indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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The Office of U.S. Attorney
Joyce White Vance
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