Two from Elgin plead guilty in counterfeit purse case

Two Elgin residents who were charged last year with selling fake designer purses at the Kane County Flea Market in St. Charles pleaded guilty today to misdemeanors.

As part of the agreement OK'd by Judge Clint Hull, Armila Santarromana, 48, of the 300 block of Weymouth Avenue, and Roberto Santarromana, 49, of the 400 block of Fremont Street, each must pay a fine of $6,025 and be on electronic home monitoring for 90 days.

The Santarromanas, who are divorced, also will be on probation for two years and are banned from the Kane County Flea Market during that time.

They faced up to seven years in prison after being arrested on May 1, 2011, and charged with felony violations of the Counterfeit Trademark Act.

Darryl Goldberg, Armila Santarromana's attorney, said he was pleased prosecutors reduced the charges to a misdemeanor violation of the act.

"They did the right thing. It makes sense," Goldberg said.

Acting on a tip, St. Charles police arrested the Santarromanas and two others last May at Kane County Fairgrounds and charged them with selling fake Coach designer purses, sunglasses and Tiffany items from three booths.

Authorities also confiscated about 5,000 counterfeit items from a storage locker after obtaining a search warrant.

Goldberg said he successfully argued in Cook County Court last October that the storage locker search came after police continued to question Armila Santarromana after she requested a lawyer. The evidence was not allowed in court and other felony charges out of Cook were dropped, he said.

Rodger Clarke, the attorney for Roberto Santarromana, said he felt the agreement was fair and that he was pleased prosecutors reduced the charges.

"These are types of items that are found all over the Internet," Clarke said. "I understand trademark issues. ... (Authorities) are looking at the low-hanging fruit instead of going after the whole tree. It's pretty easy to arrest people working in a place and selling stuff."

The guilty pleas mean the case is nearly closed.

Jin Qu, 50, of Chicago, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor last year, was fined nearly $1,800, and served 75 days in jail. He also faced deportation.

Ying Fu, 47, of Chicago, is due in Kane County court on March 15 and hopes to get into the county's Second Chance Program for nonviolent felony offenders.

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Armila Santarromana
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