2 Italian men will face
trial in jacket scam

Both are charged with counterfeiting
and face prison and fines

WAILUKU >> Two Italian nationals will stand trial for allegedly selling counterfeit Versace leather jackets in Hawaii.

A Nov. 4 arraignment in Maui Circuit Court is scheduled for Dario Amato, 46, and Pasquale Chirichella, 41, after Wailuku District Judge Reinette Cooper ruled that prosecutors had enough probable cause to warrant a trial.

The two men, who employed an English-Italian translator during their preliminary hearing yesterday, were being held in jail in lieu of $100,000 bail each.

According to a shipping document accepted into evidence, 3,600 jackets were brought from Italy to New York, and there are indications that as many as 30 people working in pairs have been involved in the counterfeit ring, Deputy Prosecutor John Tam said.

Tam said the prosecutor's office has received reports of Versace counterfeit operations in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Sara Mattei, the assistant store manager of the Gianni Versace Boutique in Kaanapali, said a Versace leather jacket ranges in price from $800 to $3,000.

Gianni Versace's high-fashion clothes have been worn by singer Elton John and the late Princess Diana, Mattei said.

Both Amato and Chirichella have been charged with two counts of trademark counterfeiting, a felony that carries up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

During the hearing, Maui Police officer Mary Lee Sagawinit testified that after the arrest of the two men at Kahului Airport on Oct. 12, she found $6,900 in cash in Chirichella's fanny pack and more than $5,000 in cash in Amato's jacket.

Sagawinit said police officers also seized five boxes containing jackets along with "GV" labels.

Police detective Mark Kaaa said that during an interview with an agent from the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service, Chirichella admitted he represented himself as a Versace agent. Chirichella was speaking in English during the interview, Kaaa said.

According to Kaaa, Chirichella said they had been on Oahu for three weeks and then went to Maui for a week and had planned to sell the remaining five boxes of jackets in San Francisco.

Kaaa said the jackets turned in by bilked Maui residents were the same kind as the ones in the boxes.

Stephen Lock, a Maui resident, said he was walking to his car in the Costco parking lot in Kahului when Amato drove in with a van at 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 7.

Lock said Amato asked for instructions on how to get to Wailea and then informed him that he had just come from a convention where he had received a bonus in the form of jackets.

Amato said he worked with Versace and showed his business card and passport as he tried to obtain cash for the jackets, saying he wanted the cash to buy a camera for his girlfriend.

Lock said he bought six jackets for $300.

Lock testified that they did not see Chirichella, but Maui Deputy Prosecutor John Tam said there were a number of items in Chirichella's fanny pack, including papers showing the distribution of boxes of jackets to other persons.


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