A federal grand jury indicted five men on charges they allegedly sold counterfeit goods of high-end designers such as Michael Kors, Coach and Jimmy Choo around Baltimore, including at the Patapsco Flea Market, where authorities conducted a weekend raid in a similar but separate investigation.
Charged were Tidiane Ba, 44; Mamadou Lamine Ba, 51; Abass Baro, 44; Sakho Oumar, 33; and Baba Toure, 39, all of Baltimore, according to the indictment unsealed Wednesday.
Toure was being sought by law enforcement officials; the others were arrested on Sunday and released Monday under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services. Efforts to reach the men were unsuccessful.
Each of them could receive up to 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine if convicted, according to the office of Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
On the same day the men were arrested, agents with the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations raided the flea market in Southwest Baltimore, where authorities alleged vendors sold counterfeit and pirated luxury goods with the market owner's knowledge.
The 21/2-year investigation involved undercover agents renting a booth at the market and buying counterfeit goods from vendors there. During the raid, federal agents confiscated items being sold at the sprawling market. Authorities say the investigation into the flea market, which is continuing, is separate from the indictment of the five men.
The indictment announced Wednesday alleged the men sold the counterfeit purses, handbags, shoes, watches and hats around Baltimore between October and April. The items bore trademarks from luxury manufacturers such as Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton.
The men set up shop near downtown Baltimore at Light and Lombard streets, Green and Baltimore streets, and Howard and Saratoga streets, the indictment said.
One of the men sold counterfeit merchandise, including a Louis Vuitton handbag and a pair of Ugg boots, at the Patapsco Flea Market on March 31, according to the indictment.
The items that the men sold came from merchandise suppliers in New York City, according to the indictment.
Homeland Security Investigations had seized counterfeit goods from the defendants several times, court documents said. Four of the five people were arrested Sunday when federal authorities used warrants to search two residences and two storage units, where they seized counterfeit items and cash.
The indictment was returned April 18. No further court dates have been scheduled.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder created the Task Force on Intellectual Property, under the U.S. Department of Justice, to fight a growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, Rosenstein's office said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun