Two men were arrested by investigators from the Special Investigation Unit Thursday and charged with trafficking in counterfeit merchandise for allegedly selling counterfeit goods out of booths at America’s Flea Market on Salem Road. Both had been arrested previously for the same charges.
In December of 2007, SIU – in what was their first case – executed 60 search warrants at once with 110-120 officers participating, and arrested approximately 38 people who were selling counterfeit merchandise out of booths at the flea market. Of those arrests, all have pled out except for one man, who still had a pending felony charge against him, and who was arrested again for reportedly perpetrating the same crime.
Mussie Isha of Clarkston, age 28, had five booths at America’s Flea Market when SIU officials busted him Thursday. According to SIU Commander Lt. Phillip Bradford, the bust came after several undercover purchases of items at the flea market were proven to be counterfeit. SIU were able to determine the merchandise (clothing, shoes, purses, sunglasses, etc) were fake after representatives from companies such as Nike, Polo, Coogi and Dooney & Burke checked the merchandise.
Also arrested was 44-year-old Girmawork “Girma” Abebe of Tucker who reportedly had six booths of merchandise for sale. Also working at his booth was 27-year-old Kidist Demedema who was arrested as well. She was not arrested in the sting in 2007, though the other two were. Abebe was on probation for the last arrest for selling counterfeit items at the time of his arrest Thursday.
Seized from both men was well over $10,000 worth of merchandise, according to Bradford, making the charges felonies.
Bradford was quick to note that the owner of the flea market had no involvement in the illegal activity and does not condone the actions of Isha, Abebe or Demedema.
“They were 100 percent helpful to us and they have vowed that this activity is not welcomed nor will it be tolerated at that location. They don’t approve of it and they don’t want it there.”