Eagan police officers arrested two Italian citizens on Friday, in connection with an alleged scam to sell hundreds of fake Italian leather jackets.
The Dakota County Attorney's Office has charged Giuseppe Buonocore, 36, and Ciro Amato, 24, with aiding and abetting forgery. Police have been unable to locate a third man, identified only as "L.M.," and believe that he may have fled back to Italy.
The criminal complaint alleges that Buonocore and Amato took leather jackets made in China, and relabeled them to look like expensive Italian leather.
Law enforcement officials began their investigation after federal immigration officials informed local officials that L.M. was suspected of belonging to the Italian mafia.
Immigration officials allege that L.M. had traveled to the United States several times since 2002 and was reportedly involved in fraudulent clothing and electronics sales.
L.M. has not been charged, as police have been unable to locate him. "As much as I'd love to go to Italy to bring him back, that's not going to happen, if that is where he is," said Eagan detective Brian Gunderson.
Gunderson said that the public should be wary about purchasing goods from unlicensed retailers.
"It's those people that are gullible enough to purchase this type of stuff from these guys on the street, and they think they're getting real leather, when in fact they're not," Gunderson said.
Investigators have asked that anyone who purchased a jacket from the suspects contact the police.
In the press release, the Eagan Police Department included a link to a YouTube video depicting a similar incident. Officials hope that the reenactment, posted by an anonymous individual, will teach the public how to recognize the scam.
The suspects are currently being held in the Dakota County Jail. If convicted, each man could face up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.