When West Seneca Police responded to a domestic disturbance in December 2015, they made an unexpected discovery. There were more than 70 counterfeit winter jackets in the house, all of similar design and clearly not all for personal use by the residents.
The man of the house, Joseph Goho, was cited for the domestic incident. Although unrelated to that case, the knockoff jackets, each bearing the distinctive North Face logo in several places and the “Never stop exploring” motto on their labels, were confiscated.
Goho later pleaded guilty to a domestic violation, but that left prosecutors with a warm, pretty well-tailored dilemma: What to do with the jackets, which they had confirmed were fakes.
“By law, the person who was in possession of them cannot get them back, nor can they be sold,” Chief Daniel Denz said Tuesday.
Usually that would mean the jackets would be destroyed, he added.
Capt. Patrick Shea, working with prosecutor Jack J. Niejadlik, had a better idea. If the jackets didn’t have the logos, they would simply be generic outerwear, and generic outerwear could be donated.
And what better place to donate them than to Haven House, Erie County’s main domestic violence shelter.
Tom and Luigi Collana of Tom and Luigi’s Tailor Shop in West Seneca agreed to de-designer the jackets and, once the legal case was settled, they carefully and stylishly removed and covered the logos, using material from a few of the jackets that they deconstructed to make sure the fabrics matched.
District Attorney John J. Flynn said that investigators didn’t know exactly where the jackets were made or how they came to be in Goho’s West Seneca home, and no charges were filed in connection with what he said were “allegedly counterfeit items.”
Genuine North Face items of similar styles retail for $99 to $169, according to the company’s website.
Representatives of Haven House who joined the DA and West Seneca Police to announce the donation said they have people who need the coats right now, and they will be put to immediate use.
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