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Intellectual Property Rights

Missouri flea market owner indicted on fraud charges, surrenders to HSI

ST. LOUIS — The operator of a local flea market turned himself in to authorities Thursday after a federal grand jury indicted him on multiple charges relating to his alleged involvement in selling counterfeit goods.

This case was investigated by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jack Frison Sr., 64, owns the Frison Flea Market located at 7025 Saint Charles Rock Road in Pagedale. Vendors paid Frison a fee to rent and operate sales booths at his flea market, and many of the vendors openly sold counterfeit goods from their booths, according to the indictment.

The counterfeit goods sold at the flea market included: clothing, footwear, hand bags, accessories, movie DVDs and music CDs. Many counterfeit items, including women's hand bags, were of such cheap price, quality and appearance that it was apparent the items were counterfeit.

Some of the vendors sold counterfeit hand bags and similar luxury items bearing brand-name logos of Coach, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana and others. The indictment alleges that Frison, of Town and Country, knew that the goods were counterfeit and allowed vendors to sell such goods.

"This type of crime takes jobs from Americans, introduces cheap and sometimes dangerous products into the marketplace, and often funds criminal organizations," said Special Agent in Charge Gary Hartwig, of HSI Chicago. "HSI is focused on disrupting and deterring counterfeiters, while protecting the intellectual property of American companies that is so critical to our nation's job growth and economic recovery."

"This is one of the largest seizures of counterfeit goods in St. Louis history," said Dean C. Bryant, special agent in charge of the FBI St. Louis Division. "In addition to the monetary harm caused by illegal sales, items such as counterfeit perfume can pose a significant public health risk when hazardous materials are used to manufacture such products."

Frison was indicted for conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, aiding and abetting copyright infringement, and trafficking counterfeit goods. The indictment was returned June 12, but remained sealed until he turned himself in to authorities June 20.

If convicted, the conspiracy and copyright infringement charges each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Trafficking in counterfeit goods carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine.

The FBI, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, and the St. Louis County Police assisted HSI with this investigation.