Sneaker bootleggers should catch the fade. That actually isn’t feasible, but jail time is certainly a possibility.
James Pepion knows this because he just caught a 4-month sentence (and three years of supervised release) for “trafficking in counterfeit goods and money laundering.”
Pepion started off as a typical sneaker reseller but admittedly got greedy, and soon was peddling blatant Nike and Air Jordan knockoffs, earning millions in the process.
At first, Pepion acquired limited-edition Nike Air Jordan sneakers and sold them at significant premiums. He’d buy the sought-after shoes from legitimate retailers using “runners” – typically homeless people in Portland paid cash to line up outside stores on the eve of a sneaker release to buy up the stock as soon as possible.
He promoted the merchandise on his website, and other social media platforms, such as Instagram or eBay.
Unable to keep up his supply, Pepion turned to shadowy sellers in Hong Kong and China and began selling hundreds of the imported counterfeit Nikes to unwitting buyers, receiving $2.6 million for the shoes in roughly three years from January 2012 through March 2015.
The proceeds helped pay for his fashionable clothes, fancy cars and season tickets to the Trail Blazers, according to a federal prosecutor.
Buyers sent complaints of the bootleg sneakers to Nike. Soon thereafter, along with Nike being accused of inaction, the jig was up.
Nike began an investigation and worked with the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as Homeland Security Investigations.
From October 2013 through May 2016, investigators intercepted 55 shipments of shoes from Asia headed to Pepion, containing 649 pairs of counterfeit Air Jordans.
In April 2016, federal agents raided Pepion’s home and seized at least another 618 counterfeit sneakers, according to court records. That same day, investigators seized $95,000 from Pepion’s financial accounts.
Pepion reportedly stood before the judge and asked to just get community service, probation and house arrest.
The judge basically said, Nah. Although prosecutors were seeking a year and a half in jail. Pepion got blessed with the four-month bid instead.
Considering this was a federal case, he got off easy. Also, he had to forfeit $100,000 to Nike and may have to pay the brand $50,000 for the cost of their investigation.
What about the kids who got fleeced out of their hard-earned coin for the bandooloo kicks, though?
H/T: Sneaker News
Photo: Jordan Brand