Sep. 16—SHENANDOAH — The sole felony count against a Frackville woman charged with selling counterfeit items on social media for more than a year was held for court during a preliminary hearing.
According to a state trooper, if alleged counterfeit items seized from the woman were real, they would have been valued at nearly $300,000.
Roxana Arely Rivera-Hernandez, 35, of 45 S. Balliet St., appeared Thursday before Magisterial District Judge Anthony J. Kilker.
She faced one felony count of trademark counterfeiting filed by state police Trooper Thomas Luscan of the Organized Crime Task Force.
Kilker ordered the charge bound over to Schuylkill County Court, with no objections by either Assistant District Attorney Karen Noon or Rivera-Hernandez's attorney, Joseph P. Nahas Jr., of Frackville.
"We're going to take it to the next level and let the wheels of justice take its course," Nahas said.
In county court, Rivera-Hernandez can either plead guilty or enter a not guilty plea and request a trial.
Kilker also allowed Rivera-Hernandez to remain free on the $75,000 unsecured bail set at arraignment.
Luscan, in paperwork filed with the court, said the crime came to light on July 21, 2021.
He said the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, notified him then that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Anchorage, Alaska, inspected and seized a FedEx package being sent to Rivera-Hernandez.
The package was from Yi Da Tong Trading Co. Ltd. of Guangzhou, China, and manifested as "bag use to decoration" with an invoice value of $166.
When examined, agents found 32 handbags purported to be from designer labels Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci.
Luscan said that based on the poor quality and low invoice value, the items were determined to be counterfeit.
A subsequent appraisal indicated the suggested retail price for items if they were authentic would be $78,000.
The investigation, Luscan said, led to the discovery of a Facebook account registered to Rivera-Hernandez.
According to Luscan, the account showed images and videos showcasing suspected counterfeit merchandise with the trademarked names of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Versace, Burberry and Gucci.
Luscan said videos included Rivera-Hernandez showcasing items, with viewers telling her what items they wanted to buy.
The videos show Rivera-Hernandez in a setting that matched the interior and exterior of her home, as posted on the online real estate site Zillow, Luscan said.
A second Facebook account belonging to the defendant listed a telephone number for Arelys Boutique and contained live videos of Rivera-Hernandez selling items with a link to her other Facebook account, according to Luscan.
On both Facebook accounts, the woman said she accepted payments in Cash App or Zelle.
On July 26, 2022, a message was sent to Rivera-Hernandez from an undercover Facebook account, Luscan said, and asked if a product would be shipped or could be picked up locally.
In response, Rivera-Hernandez allegedly answered: "No only make shipping."
A purchase was subsequently made in the amount of $115 from Rivera-Hernandez for a Louis Vuitton handbag and a pair of Gucci sandals, Luscan said.
A payment was then sent to the woman, who received it via PayPal and said the items would be shipped the next day, Luscan said.
Surveillance was conducted at the woman's home on July 27, where she was seen leaving with a large black trash bag that appeared to contain numerous items and heading to the post office.
After Rivera-Hernandez left the post office, Luscan said he entered the building and identified himself to the employee.
One of the packages she dropped off contained a shipping label address for the undercover purchase, Luscan said.
He also said four other packages were being sent to California, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas.
Luscan said that on Aug. 1, the undercover purchase package was seized, opened and found to contain a Louis Vuitton handbag with matching bracelet and a pair of black Gucci sandals.
Photographs of the items were sent to special investigator Steven Galambos of STUMAR Investigation, a private company that specializes in intellectual property.
Luscan said that Galambos, a retired Department of Homeland Security Border and Customs agent, is certified through several companies to locate and identify counterfeit products.
On Aug. 2, Galambos reported the items were counterfeit and that the suggested price of genuine items would be $2,030 for the Louis Vuitton handbag and $450 for the Gucci sandals, Luscan said.
Galambos determined the Louis Vuitton handbag had a counterfeit hand tag and did not have a stamped product factory and date code, while the Gucci sandals were missing a product serial number and stamp, along with a visible size marking.
The products also had the wrong country of origin, since Gucci footwear is made in Italy and Louis Vuitton is made in France, Italy and the United States, not in China.
On Aug. 5, a search warrant was executed at Rivera-Hernandez's home and 365 items deemed counterfeit were seized, Luscan said.
The total estimated suggested retail price of the items, if genuine, would be $289,000.
The seized items included products with the trademarks of Louis Vuitton, Supreme, Gucci, Burberry, Versace, Christian Dior, Chanel, Salvatore and Nike, Luscan said.