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Cops bust dealers of counterfeit President Obama sneakers

By Scott Shifrel
Friday, April 24th 2009

Obama Sneakers

Yes, they can slap President Obama's image on fake Nike sneakers. No, they can't get away with it.

Six knockoff product dealers were busted Friday after investigators found the Obama sneakers in 123 storage bins crammed with fake Prada and Coach handbags.

"It's frankly just disrespectful to have the President of the United States depicted on this sneaker," Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said. "Just absolutely disgraceful."

The suspects face up to four years in prison if convicted of counterfeiting and trademark infringement.

The year-long sting operation conducted with state police and the city Waterfront Commission recovered more than 100,000 pieces of counterfeit merchandise.

"In these tough economic times, people deserve to know that, when they spend money, the goods they buy are real," Hynes said as officials displayed the bogus merchandise in open storage bins in the Stop and Stor storage facility in Bay Ridge.

The owners and operators of the storage facility were not part of the operation and were not charged.

The scam deprived the state of millions in taxes and hurts legitimate stores selling the real deal, Hynes said.

Using Obama's image is not allowed unless the President gives permission, which he had not in the case of the sneakers.

The feds recently ordered a brewery based in Red Hook, Brooklyn, to stop selling its popular Obama-branded beer.

The bust comes in the same week that the hoops-loving President tapped Nike Vice President Maria Eitel to head the Corporation for National and Community Service, the umbrella agency that overseas programs like AmeriCorps. But the White House said that had nothing to do with the sneaker.

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