Crime

Chapel Hill pastor arrested with $24 million in fake Cartier jewelry, investigators say

Chapel Hill pastor arrested with $24 million in fake Cartier jewelry

JianGang “Frank” Lan, a Chapel Hill pastor is facing charges after being found with thousands of fake designer bracelets valued at $24.4 million — the state’s largest single seizure since 2004.
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JianGang “Frank” Lan, a Chapel Hill pastor is facing charges after being found with thousands of fake designer bracelets valued at $24.4 million — the state’s largest single seizure since 2004.

A Chapel Hill pastor is facing charges after being found with thousands of fake designer bracelets valued at $24.4 million — the state’s largest single seizure since 2004, according to the N.C. Secretary of State’s office.

JianGang “Frank” Lan, 34, was arrested and charged with felony criminal use of a counterfeit trademark Friday, according to a news release from the Secretary of State’s Office. The office enforces laws that protect the holders of state and federally registered trademarks.

Officers raided Deer Park Community Church at 108 W. Rosemary St. in Chapel Hill, where they say they found him with more than 3,200 counterfeit Cartier bracelets, the release says.

Orange County investigators were tipped off by federal authorities from the Department of Homeland Security’s (HSI Investigations) Office in Louisville, Kentucky, the release says.

It marks the largest single seizure since the N.C. Anti-Counterfeit Trademark Task Force was established in 2004, the release says.

The estimated retail value of $24.4 million is the amount the genuine trademarked goods would sell for, investigators said.

Lan is listed as assistant pastor on the church’s website, as is his wife, Leah Peng. On the website, the church says Lan is in charge of the Chinese congregation and other education programs.

The church did not respond to The News & Observer’s phone message seeking comment.

“This is certainly the largest counterfeit seizure we have seen in terms of estimated retail value,” Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall said in the release. “Counterfeiters peddling fakes of an iconic brand such as Cartier are doing damage not only to that company’s brand, but to legitimate merchants, and to consumer trust in brand quality.”

Lan is being in the Orange County jail under a $25,000 bail, according to the release.

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Joe Johnson is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer. He most recently covered towns in western Wake County and Chatham County. Before that, he covered high school sports for The Herald-Sun.
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