MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WTAQ) - Milwaukee Police and federal agents are cracking down on sales of counterfeit Nike sneakers – much to the chagrin of defense lawyers, who say the police should use their precious resources to fight bigger crimes. But detective David Baker says the fake shoes often generate drug and gun crimes in some Milwaukee neighborhoods, so the police have a real interest. Authorities and Nike use confidential informants to buy shoes with marked cash. And when Nike discovers fakes, police get warrants and arrest the sellers.
Attorney Tom Kurzynski said his client bought his inventory off the Internet – and he had no idea his Air Force One sneakers were counterfeit until somebody showed up with a warrant. Baker says Nike is trademarked in Wisconsin, and the company provides a large amount of support to officers. He said counterfeiters sell them for $40 to $60, or half the retail price. Defense lawyer Robert Haney said it’s cheaper for Nike to use the police than to go after counterfeit sellers in civil court.
But Marquette law professor Irene Calboli says many large firms don’t use civil courts because defendants don’t often have to money to pay their penalties. She says it’s easier for police to seize inventories and get the products off the street – and the criminal cases can often uncover larger crimes and criminals.