WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – It was among the largest counterfeiting busts in recent memory – women from Queens driven to a Long Island warehouse to stitch phony tags on fake purses, coats and more.
The ring was broken up, and the clothing will not go to waste.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the alleged mastermind behind the counterfeit warehouse in New Cassel forgot to pay his rent, leading to an eviction warrant and the discovery of more than $1 million worth of fake designer goods.
CBS2’s cameras were there in 2016 during the dramatic Nassau County raid. Three people were arrested and have pleaded not guilty.
Since then, what happened to all the phony Polo Ralph Lauren, UGG, CHANEL, North Face and Louis Vuitton?
“Here we have the 11,000 seized counterfeit jackets, which we are about to refurbish,” Rene Fiechter, of the Rehabilitation Institute, told McLogan on Wednesday. “It’s the Robin Hood syndrome.”
Tri and Spectrum, businesses that employ special needs adults with autism and other disabilities, received the $40,000 embroidery machines from the raid and went to work.
“Individuals with disabilities are probably the most reliable employees that you will find,” said Andrew Cohen, of the Rehabilitation Institute.
Their assignments were to stitch over the fancy, fake logos or camouflage the labels, so the seized goods did not have to be destroyed.
“It’s charitable work, but I like helping people,” said Tri and Spectrum employee Renee Eng.
Once the logos are covered, the finished jackets will be distributed to dozens of worthy local charities.
“Have the dignity of work, people will be able to get the jackets they need to keep them warm, and we were able to complete a tremendous criminal prosecution,” said Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.
The 11,000 jackets will be ready to be worn after the eager special needs adults complete the task.
“This works means a lot, because it enables me to kind of prove everyone wrong who kept on telling me in the past, ‘you won’t be someone,’” Tri and Spectrum employee Josh Mirsky said.
The first charitable shipments went out Wednesday.