A Chapel Hill pastor is in the Orange County Jail after being arrested by state authorities for allegedly possessing millions of dollars worth of counterfeit jewelry.
Agents with North Carolina Secretary of State Trademark Enforcement arrested 34-year-old JianGang “Frank” Lan on Friday and charged him with felony criminal use of a trademark.
Lan had more than 3,200 counterfeit Cartier bracelets, according to authorities, with an estimated retail value of $24.4 million. State officials said that value is the “amount the genuine trademarked goods would sell for.”
The bracelets were found at Deer Park Community Church on West Rosemary Street, where Lan is listed as an associate pastor. He is now being held under a $25,000 secured bond.
North Carolina authorities were tipped off about the cache of fake jewelry from Department of Homeland Security personnel in Louisville, Kentucky.
“This is certainly the largest counterfeit seizure we have seen in terms of estimated retail value, and it is a major win for consumers and retailers,” Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said in Friday’s release. “Counterfeiters peddling fakes of an iconic brand such as Cartier are doing damage not only to that company’s brand, but to legitimate merchants, and to consumer trust in brand quality.
“We are grateful for the assistance of the Department of Homeland Security’s Winston-Salem and Louisville, Kentucky Offices, as well as the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Blazer Investigations.”
The secretary of state’s office is tasked with enforcing laws protecting holders of registered trademarks. The North Carolina Anti-Counterfeit Trademark Task Force was established in 2004.