UPDATED: Deerfield police seize $500,000 in counterfeit goods at fair
Arrested Thursday afternoon during the sting and charged with counterfeiting and fraud were: Saliou Niang, 53 of New York, N.Y.; Kathleen Hallahan, 59, of Malden, Mass.; Michael Cote, 46, of Franklin; and Lisa Ullah, 45 of Manchester. Police said they do not believe the four were working together or knew each other.
The four were held at the police station near the fairgrounds before each was released on $2,500 bail. They are scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 17.
The sting materialized after Deerfield police received a tip from a private investigator that several vendors were believed to be selling counterfeit items at the fair. With the cooperation of the Deerfield Fair Association, undercover officers bought items at certain booths and those items were later found to be counterfeit, police said. About a dozen police officers participated in the sting.
The investigator who provided the tip was working for major conglomerates seeking to find illegal, counterfeit merchandise, according to authorities.
The confiscated items included handbags, wallets, jewelry, and baseball hats, with counterfeited brands ranging from the NHL and the NFL, to Gucci and Coach.
Any counterfeit goods will be destroyed or 'disposed of in another manner' with the consent of the trademark owner under New Hampshire law if convictions are achieved.
Three of the four arrested have had booths at the fair in previous years, with one vendor having operated there for at least nine consecutive years.
Other fair vendors were supportive of the action taken by police.
'The mood here seems to be 'good for you,'' said Sheryl Bolduc, Deerfield Fair Association president. 'This is absolutely nothing we want on our fairgrounds.''
Bolduc was not concerned that the sting would damage the fair.
'I think the fact that we stood with the police shows that we're serious about this,' she said. 'We obviously do not condone illegal acts at our fairgrounds.'
Under state law, first time offenders of counterfeiting are charged with a class A misdemeanor, with subsequent offenses being class B felonies. According to the law, every individual good bearing a counterfeited mark constitutes a separate offense. Under Lanham Act, the federal government's primary trademark legislation, first time offenders of counterfeiting may be subject to a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine up to $2 million.