Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Asian Man Claims He Was Racially Profiled Shop Owner Charged in Counterfeit Case

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Asian Man Claims He Was Racially Profiled Shop Owner Charged in Counterfeit Case

Article excerpt

A Taiwanese-American business owner believes Frazer police violated his constitutional rights by starting an investigation of his business based solely on his race.

Attorney Casey White filed a motion Thursday asking Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Randal B. Todd to throw out the case against Tommy Wang, 42, of Highland Park, who faces a charge of selling goods with counterfeit trademarks.

The investigation began in February 2018 after Mr. Wang reported to police an attempted burglary of his store, Shop Off The Hanger, which is in the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills, according to a criminal complaint.

Frazer police Officer Lee Bartolicius went with Mr. Wang to his store, where the officer went into a back room and noticed fish tanks and unmarked boxes.

Officer Bartolicius apparently became suspicious, because he consulted with a captain in the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission who told him that "it is common for persons engaged in illegal activity specifically of Asian descent to buy, sell, trade and breed in exotic, protected and endangered fish," according to a March 14 application for a search warrant written by Officer Bartolicius.

It was not clear exactly when that consultation took place.

Mr. Wang, a U.S. citizen, is from Taiwan and immigrated to the United States as a child in the 1980s, Mr. White said.

Officer Bartolicius also wrote in the search warrant application that he knew unmarked boxes to be the "normal way" for counterfeit goods to be shipped to the United States - particularly from China - and said he recognized counterfeit goods in the front of the store as he walked through.

Officer Bartolicius then started an investigation. Over the next month, he worked with a private investigator and undercover state police to buy products from the store and examine them to determine if they used unlicensed trademarks. …

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