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Wednesday April 14th, 2021 11:09PM

Jackson Co. authorities arrest 12 suspected counterfeiters

By B.J. Williams Assistant News Director
NICHOLSON - Jackson County authorities have arrested a dozen vendors for selling tens of thousands of dollars worth of counterfeit merchandise at the J&J Flea Market near Nicholson.

Chief Deputy Daniel Thomas with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office said the arrests took place Saturday following an undercover investigation.

"About two months ago it was brought to our attention through some complaints that there was a problem with this type of activity going on at the J&J Flea Market," said Chief Thomas.

He said at the same time, company representatives from some of the labels that were having problems with copyright infringement also came to the sheriff's department with concerns that there might be counterfeiting taking place in Jackson County.

"We worked jointly with the Southern Region Recording Industry Association of America and other investigators - the ones that represent the goods that were being sold," said Thomas.

He said after a number of undercover buys were made, investigators were able to make their arrests and confiscate the stolen merchandise.

Thomas said authorities were able to confiscate more than 500 counterfeit items, ranging from sports caps to designer bags to sunglasses and watches, among other items. Thomas said the total value of those items ranged from $85,000 to $125,00. In addition, investigators seized 7,625 movie and music compact discs with an estimated retail value of $91,500.

Those arrested and the charges facing them are as follows:

~Mark Anthony Artist, 50, of Athens - forged or counterfeit trademarks (misdemeanor).
~Todd Christopher Artist, 35, of Lawrenceville - forged or counterfeit trademarks (misdemeanor) and reproduction of recorded material (felony).
~Jeffery Thomas Darity, 51, of Athens - reproduction of recorded material (felony).
~Eugene Echols, 47, of Athens - forged or counterfeit trademarks (misdemeanor) and reproduction of recorded material (felony).
~Margarita Asuc Flores-Alvarez, 41, of Norcross - reproduction of recorded material (felony).
~Rayvon Truhart Funn, 18, of Lawrenceville - forged or counterfeit trademarks
(misdemeanor) and reproduction of recorded material (felony).
~Kenneth Russell Jackson Jr., 51 of Lawrenceville - forged or counterfeit trademarks (felony).
~Kevin Lamar Kesler, 37, of Martin - forged or counterfeit trademarks (misdemeanor).
~Dontae Durell Lake Jr., 31, of Athens - reproduction of recorded material (felony).
~Neira Josefina Lealde-Sanchez, 43, of Duluth - forged or counterfeit trademarks (misdemeanor).
~Derek Spencer Morton, 49, of Colbert - reproduction of recorded material
(felony).
~Dorotea Zapata, 52, of Corneila - forged or counterfeit trademarks (felony).

Thomas said other arrests are possible as the investigation continues.


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