Food pantry operator arrested for selling counterfeit goods

Layout of the counterfeit merchandise that investigators said they seized from a Suffolk Co. food pantry operator (counterfeit tiffany)

December 21, 2011 2:09:27 PM PST
A small food pantry is padlocked shut and a sign says it is closed after the director here was arrested and charged with selling counterfeit merchandise.

Prosecutors showed off the goods, which included all sorts of silver - jewelry, bracelets, necklaces - and all appearing to bear that famous Tiffany label, but Suffolk County investigators claim the stuff was bought online from China.

"Everything you see before you is fake. 100-percent fake," Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said.

Mary Ann Bell, 69, is accused of selling the jewelry, described in literature as "trendy affordable silver" to benefit the Greater Port Jefferson Food Pantry.

Bell, investigators say, is the director of the pantry.

The alleged fraud, which investigator believe netted Bell 150-thousand dollars a year, occurred over the past three years.

They also claim Bell would tell customers that they were factory seconds, but the alleged scheme unraveled when customers complained about the jewelry.

When the products were returned to Tiffany's, its own investigators realized they were not the high quality products sold by the famed company.

Investigators say they seized counterfeit items at bell's home in Stony Brook. They add that none of the money benefited the food pantry.

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