LONG ISLAND (PIX11) — A Long Island boutique owner is in big trouble with the law after investigators discovered she was selling thousands of dollars worth of knockoff clothing.
Police allege Lindsay Castelli Bullock, 32, of Smithtown, of running a sophisticated operation based at Linny’s Boutique in Plainview. She is also accused of running sweatshops outfitted with dozens of pressing machines.
Police said the workers used them to seal fake labels and the knockoff merchandise was sold to unsuspecting customers who thought they were buying the real thing.
“They would take a hat, a $3 hat, a $.50 item on the side here. They would heat-seal it onto the hat for $300,” said Nassau County Police Commissioner Paddy Ryder.
“(A) simple $10 sweatshirt, you put the Chanel brand on it, it sells for $5300,” Ryder added.
Authorities began investigating after they got several complaints from consumers who were tricked into buying what they thought were luxury brands, like Gucci, Dior, Prada, and Chanel. But instead, police said the goods were assembled in the basement of Linny’s Boutique and then sold in the store or online, allegedly using the mail to deliver the fakes.
The seized merchandise was worth about $40 million.
“She had a storefront that you could’ve walked by hundreds of times and not realized what was in was thousands and thousands of dollars of counterfeit goods,” said Nassau County District Anne Donnelly.
The boutique was closed Tuesday and the owner could not be reached. At the shopping center where the boutique is located, some shoppers said they noticed the prices were high.
“It was too expensive,” said one shopper.
“I think if you are shopping here in that kind of store, I don’t think you expect that you are buying a full Gucci bag,” added another shopper.
The 18-month investigation is dubbed operation rainfall because every time investigators did surveillance it happened to rain. Authorities said they are still getting complaints from consumers who did think the merchandise was authentic at the time of purchase.
Castelli Bullock is charged with trademark counterfeiting and was served a desk appearance for Nov. 2. Officials urge the public to check a brand’s website to find its authorized stores.
“It’s not only the public that gets deceived but it’s also the legitimate businesses that are hurt because now the dollars are going to counterfeit goods rather than for them,” Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said.