For about four months in 2007, Lakeith Fowler had a good con going. That May, the 32-year-old had hooked up with a supplier who began shipping case after case of the latest Nike sneakers at dirt-cheap prices. Fowler marked them up and sold them from his retail store, The World is Yours Clothing & Accessories, which operated in a run-down strip center on Ledbetter Drive in east Oak Cliff.
The reason Fowler could get the shoes for so cheap was that they were fake, manufactured in some anonymous Chinese factory, affixed with the Nike swoosh and shipped to the United States. Fowler knew this. Many of his customers probably did too, at least if they stopped to ask how he was able to sell shoes for half of what they cost in a shoe store.
What he might not have known was that the counterfeiting ring he had bought into was a big one. His connection was 44-year-old Canadian named Malik Bazzi, who in turn was supplied by a husband-and-wife team, Xiao Cheng Lin and Ling Zhen Hu. They got the sneakers through Hu's boss, who imported hundreds of thousands of pairs from China.
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The operation was large enough to attract the attention of the feds, who swept in that September and rounded up two dozen people involved in the counterfeiting ring. Fowler was charged with trafficking in counterfeit merchandise.
He pleaded guilty on September 5 and, in December, was sentenced to 33 months in prison and required to pay Nike $240,000 in restitution. According to his plea agreement, Fowler sold about 12,000 pairs of counterfeit sneakers between May and September 2007, or roughly 100 per day.
But Fowler wasn't immediately required to report to prison, which is how he came to be at home on January 24. That evening, police say Fowler punched his girlfriend in the head and face several times. He was arrested on February 13 on a charge of aggravated assault with serious bodily injury.
That's how his counterfeiting case wound up on a federal court docket in Dallas on Tuesday. He'd been prosecuted for the crime in New York but, since the domestic violence charge amounted to a violation of the terms of his release, he had a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez, who ordered him detained.