CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – The Chapel Hill pastor arrested for selling millions of dollars worth of fake Cartier bracelets made his first appearance before an Orange County judge on Monday.
Authorities found $24 million worth of Cartier bracelets at Deer Park Community Church. The church had signs and banners up a few weeks ago, but on Monday it appeared to be shutdown. The name of the church is now covered with sheets of paper, and the church’s website is no longer working.
Rev. JianGang “Frank” Lan, 34, was busted with more than 3,000 counterfeit Cartier bracelets, according to authorities. He is out on bail.
“I was astonished. I really was,” said North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. “Last year, as a state total, we took in $14 million. This greatly exceeded it in one bust. One activity that we didn’t know about a couple of days ago until a tip came along, and just blew us out of the water on numbers.”
Trademark enforcement agents arrested Lan after they found the knockoff bracelets inside his church.
Authorities believe Lan was likely going to sell them on the internet. In court, a judge told the pastor he could face a maximum of three years behind bars. CBS 17 spoke with a man who works at the homeless shelter next door to the church.
“I’m really surprised being right next door to where we’re located and where I work. It was very surprising and I’m sure it’s gonna be talked about for a long time,” said Gunzo, who works at the Interfaith Shelter next door to the church.
Gunzo said Lan recently asked him if he could throw away boxes in his dumpster, now he wonders if all of those boxes had been filled with counterfeit jewelry. He says the pastor also borrowed their dolly.
“He borrowed some equipment of ours and he never brought it back so I kind of thought that was kind of odd when you’re right next door,” said Gunzo. “I was telling a coworker of mine that there’s something weird about that guy.”
Lan will be back in court on Sept. 9. He did not comment on his charges.