By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins and his partner, Rochelle Massey, pled guilty Friday to five misdemeanors in their counterfeiting case, sparing them a trial and Jenkins a potential felony conviction that would have cost him his mayoralty.
“I’m happy it’s over,” Massey said from inside the couple’s Broadway store, G-Men Beauty Supplies, shortly after the plea. “We can move forward. We have things to do.”
Jenkins could not be reached, but Massey said now that he’s certain he can remain mayor, he’s already announced his re-election plans for next March.
The duo pled guilty to five counts each of trademark counterfeiting in the third degree on Friday, all misdemeanors, for possessing and intending to sell fake Nike sneakers, including two occasions in 2009 and 2010 where they sold them to undercover state troopers.
A trial had been in the works, with a jury being picked all week, but suddenly a plea deal was reached apparently because District Attorney Jim Farrell didn’t want the identity of an undercover police officer revealed on the witness stand.
“I had to weigh the risk of safety of an undercover police officer in this case and the potential for discovery of that officer’s identity in determining to resolve this case short of a trial,” Farrell stated in a press release. “I also had to be guided by the manner in which other individuals similarly charged have been treated and prosecuted. In this case, these defendants were treated fairly and evenhandedly.”
At sentencing on June 13, Farrell will likely ask County Court Judge Frank LaBuda to impose fines of up to $1,000 per count, plus restitution to Nike and community service.
The couple is not expected to serve jail or probation time, but the 300 counterfeit Nikes seized from their store will be sent at their expense to “an impoverished part of the world,” according to Farrell.
“This is a defendant who claimed a political conspiracy, yet the facts of this case, the admissions of guilt and the resolution of this case all betray that assertion and show the exact opposite,” Farrell said, responding to claims by Jenkins that the DA’s actions were politically motivated. “This was about, as I said at the outset of this prosecution, violations of the criminal law. Those violations are now proven fact by admissions of criminal wrongdoing by both defendants.”
Massey, under advice from her lawyer, did not make a reply, but she did express deep gratefulness to supporters.
“I thank all the people, all the ministers, all the prayers,” she remarked. “I am so thankful for all of them. I’m blessed.”