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Former Duluth store co-owner guilty of selling fake designer clothing

The partner of a former Duluth clothier convicted of selling counterfeit designer clothing was found guilty Tuesday of the same crime.

Nicholas Frank Campanella, 30, entered an Alford plea to a charge of

offering counterfeit intellectual property for sale, a felony. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit the act, but admits that sufficient evidence exists that would allow the prosecution to convince a judge or jury of the defendant's guilt.

Judge Dale Harris ordered an Arrowhead Regional Corrections probation officer to investigate Campanella's background before sentencing on Nov. 5.

Campanella's partner in the former business, Christopher Giddens, 30, pleaded guilty in July to a felony charge of offering counterfeit intellectual property for sale. Giddens admitted that he should have known the merchandise he sold from Christopher's Clothing Store was not authentic, based on the prices at which he was able to purchase it.

Giddens was sentenced last month to two years of probation and ordered to perform five days of community service.

Campanella and Giddens were co-owners of the clothing store at 305 W. Superior St. Campanella said they were paying about $2,000 a month in rent, and without their supply of merchandise they had to declare bankruptcy.

Investigators found 281 items of counterfeit property valued at about $16,000 in the store. Campanella told officers he ordered most of the merchandise from websites. He said some of the jeans were valued at $190, but he would pay only $15 and sell them for $50.

Giddens and Campanella were among four men from three Duluth businesses charged in January with selling more than $100,000 in counterfeit goods ranging from sports jerseys to supposed designer handbags and clothes. The charges were brought after Duluth police and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents conducted a sting of the businesses in October 2009.

Two other business owners were charged in the sting. Frederick A. Degerstrom, 33, former owner-proprietor of Fred and Mark's Sports in Miller Hill Mall when charged, pleaded guilty in May to counterfeiting intellectual property.

Willie Love, 66, owner of New U Clothing store on the ground floor of 207 E. Superior St., is accused of selling counterfeit handbags and clothing with the brand names of Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Coach and Prada for $50 to $60 when the genuine items sell for $400. Love has pleaded not guilty. His next court date hasn't been scheduled.