MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The owner of a Memphis flea market pleaded guilty Thursday to the facilitation of the sale of smuggled goods, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the Shelby County Sheriff's Office and the Memphis Police Department.
Fred Thomas Goodfellow, 71, was the owner and operator of the Southwest Flea Market located at 4233 S. Third Street in Memphis. On Jan. 28, 2011, Goodfellow knowingly facilitated the sale of at least 42 counterfeit Rolex watches at the flea market. On that day, Goodfellow met with two undercover officers who were posing as vendors interested in selling imitation Rolex watches at the flea market. Goodfellow knowingly agreed to allow the undercover officers to rent a booth to sell the counterfeit watches to the public, even after he had received cease and desist letters from the copyright holders. Goodfellow also accepted an imitation Rolex watch from one of the undercover officers as a gift. Subsequent to Goodfellow's arrest, approximately 40 fake Rolex watches were recovered in relation to the investigation. If authentic, the watches would have had an approximate value of $400,000.
Following the undercover operation, HSI and partner agencies executed federal search and seizure warrants on the flea market June 23, 2011. A two-day seizure operation resulted in 75 containers being removed from the property along with several additional truckloads of merchandise that had been displayed in booths at the flea market. The containers were transported to a secure warehouse facility where officers spent the next few weeks conducting inventory and cataloging the seized property. Ultimately, this combined investigative effort resulted in the seizure of more than 137,000 individual items carrying a total estimated Manufacturers' Suggested Retail Price of more than $21.5 million.
"Mr. Goodfellow stood at the top of the pyramid in a massive counterfeit goods scheme that defrauded U.S. and foreign corporations out of tens of millions of dollars," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. "In just two days, we seized more than 121,000 counterfeit items that were for sale at Mr. Goodfellow's flea market, a staggering amount of substandard merchandise that likely would have spread out across the southeastern United States. Thanks to the hard work of HSI agents, working alongside the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, the Memphis Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and of course, the US Attorney's Office, this significant criminal enterprise was permanently dismantled." Parmer oversees HSI activities in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Pursuant to a plea agreement and settlement with the United States, Goodfellow forfeited all interest in the Southwest Flea Market property. Goodfellow is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Samuel Hardy Mays Jr. for sentencing Sept. 27. He faces up to 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
"The Southwest Flea Market, also known as the Third Street Flea Market, was not only an eyesore but a nuisance to residents living in the Westwood area of Memphis," said United States Attorney Edward L. Stanton, III. "The market was notorious for selling counterfeit merchandise, and former owner Fred Goodfellow had received numerous cease and desist letters from various trademark holders since 2008. Our office will continue to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who perpetrate intellectual property crimes and blatantly disregard federal law in the manner that Goodfellow exhibited."