SNOW HILL — A West Ocean City homeless shelter last week became the recipient of 52 pairs of counterfeit Nike basketball shoes confiscated during a drug bust in March after a rather unusual ruling by a Worcester County District Court judge.
Around 5:15 p.m. on March 4, a Maryland State Police trooper stopped a 2006 Nissan Altima with North Caroline tags on Route 13 near Pocomoke for following another vehicle too closely. During conversation with the driver, identified as Tito Antyone Belcher, 39, of Plymouth, N.C., the trooper observed signs something criminal might be afoot, according to police reports.
The trooper called for a K-9 unit inspection of the vehicle, which returned a positive result. A subsequent search revealed an unmarked pill bottle containing several prescription pills. In addition, the search revealed three large cardboard boxes containing 52 pairs of counterfeit Nike “Air Force 1” shoes. The shoes were marked as being counterfeit.
Belcher told police he bought the counterfeit shoes from an unknown male in New York City and also told police he bought the shoes for resale to people in his hometown who cannot afford the original Nike products. Belcher was subsequently arrested on drug charges and counterfeit trademark violations.
Last Friday in District Court in Snow Hill, Belcher pleaded guilty to the counterfeit trademark violations and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, all of which was then suspended. He was also fined $200 and placed on probation for 18 months. In a bit of an unusual ruling, District Court Judge Gerald Purnell ordered the 52 pairs of counterfeit Nike shoes be donated to Diakonia of Ocean City, which operates a transitional shelter for homeless individuals and families at its facility in West Ocean City.