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Officials confiscate counterfeit apparel

ST. CHARLES – A St. Charles man was charged with three felony counts of manufacturing counterfeit sports apparel in connection with a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation in which St. Charles police assisted.

Joshua G. Latendresse, 44, of the 600 block of Persimmon Drive, St. Charles, was charged June 1 with manufacturing sports apparel by using or imitating trademarks for the Chicago Blackhawks, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox without the permission of the trademark owners, according to police reports and court records.

Details of the search warrant and Latendresse’s arrest were obtained from St. Charles police through a Freedom of Information Act request.

St. Charles police assisted U.S. Customs in serving a search warrant May 13 at Latendresse’s business, Next Level Threads, 1820 Wallace Ave., Suite 119, St. Charles, a police report stated. Nine customs agents and a private detective participated, the report stated.

The probe was sparked by an undercover agent who bought a T-shirt with a Blackhawks logo from a store in Batavia, the report stated. Kevin Read, vice president of Edward R. Kirby Inc., a private investigator hired by professional sports organizations to investigate counterfeit trademarked items, determined the shirt was a counterfeit.

Immigration agents and a Batavia detective spoke to the store owner, who said she bought the items from Latendresse, the report stated. The business had an office with two desks and a warehouse where merchandise is manufactured and stored, along with several embroidery machines, the report stated.

“Josh said he would talk to us and that he had nothing to hide. He said he wasn’t violating any trademark laws,” the report stated. “He went on to say that he uses nontrademarked, open-source pictures off the internet for his designs. He said he then makes his own designs, which are different, fun, cool and fashionable.”

Customs agents confiscated the merchandise – 12 pieces of National Hockey League clothing, 259 NHL emblems, 43 Major League Baseball emblems and clothing, and 30 National Football League emblems and clothing – as evidence, the report stated.

Agents also took a computer as evidence because it directs an embroidery machine and contained designs for professional teams such as the Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls and Denver Broncos, the report stated.

Lindsay Conn, an intellectual property enforcement director for Trademark Management, the administrator of the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports Logos, identified Latendresse’s merchandise taken during the search warrant as counterfeit, not licensed or authorized by Major League Baseball Properties Inc., NFL Properties LLC or NHL Properties L.P., the report stated.

Each felony carries a punishment of two to five years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

Latendresse posted $500 bond, or 10 percent of the $5,000 bail that was set. His next court date is June 23, court records show.

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