NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two John F. Kennedy International Airport workers have been charged with stealing 12 pairs of Kevin Durant basketball shoes that were supposed to be going to Canada.
The KD8 shoes, a Nike product carrying the name of the Oklahoma City Thunder forward, were being shipped from a factory in Taiwan to Ontario, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
The sneakers are not yet even on the general market. Once they become available to the public in July, they will retail for about $200 a pair, the DA’s office said.
But prosecutors charged that two airport workers – Calvin Colain Nelson, 23, of Springfield Gardens, Queens, and Audley Russell, 47, of Jamaica, Queens, intercepted the shipment and went on to sell them over the Internet.
A freight forwarding company working with Nike was coordinating the shipment of the KD8 shoes on an Air China cargo flight, and found a crate of them missing when the others arrived in Canada on May 9, prosecutors said.
After the carton vanished, numerous photos of the unreleased sneakers – including one of them showing a factory box and serial number, appeared on the Instagram sales account @SNKR_BASE, prosecutors said. The shoes were advertised as “the real deal,” and “dropping July.”
The first posting on May 10 appeared a day after the sneaker shipment arrived at JFK, prosecutors said. Police found photos of the personal Instagram account TH3CLEAN_CUT, which is associated with @SNKR_BASE, and found photos of a man and various sneakers for sale, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors alleged that Nelson – a JFK security guard — was the man seen in the photos.
Nelson was interviewed by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police on Wednesday, and allegedly claimed that he had bought the KD8 shoes on Guy R. Brewer Blvd. from a man he knew. He claimed he bought nine pairs of sneakers for $2,475, kept one pair for himself, and sold the rest for $135 to $300 a pair.
He also allegedly showed police several text messages that he had exchanged with a cellphone belonging to Russell, who works at Cargo Building 76 at the airport, and said some of the text messages he received from Russell included snapshots of the KD8 shoes, prosecutors said.
Russell allegedly said someone had dropped off a bag at his home that he knew was from the cargo building where he worked, and allegedly said he knew the items were stolen and he was probably giving him a cut. He said the “sneaker guy” he texted gave him $80 a pair for the shoes, prosecutors said.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said the defendants had “committed a foul,” and, “They now face the prospect of being benched behind bars for their alleged crime.”
Nelson and Russell were each charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. They face up to four years of prison if convicted.
Kason Alexander and Akanni Martin are both from Brooklyn.
The arrest came after Alexander was spotted peeing on the sidewalk on East 57th Street and Avenue D in Brooklyn Saturday night, according to DA Brown’s office. As police approached, Alexander and Martin got into a nearby car, which had two crates sitting on top of the folded back seat.
The crates contained 127 memory cards, 36 camera lenses, 52 Nikon cameras, 15 camera accessories and 100 Kindle tablets.
Both men face grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property charges.
They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.