A Chinatown shop worker has been arrested for selling counterfeit luxury goods — cardboard items used in Chinese funeral rituals.
Wing Sun Mak was arraigned Wednesday on copyright infringement charges. A police officer observed him selling three handbags that resembled Louis Vuitton and Burberry knockoffs. The cardboard models are burned as part of traditional Chinese funeral practices.
Store owner Amy Mak-Chan told The New York Times that the items are used as symbolic gifts for the deceased.
"When people die, they feel they are going to need things in the next world," Mak-Chan told the Times. "They might want a car and a house and other nice things. People buy these things here, to give them as gifts at the funeral."
The store also sells cardboard flat-screen TVs and cardboard mansions.
The defendant is fighting the charges. Attorney Jonathan Stonbely said they've rejected a prosecution offer to plead guilty to disorderly conduct and pay a $100 fine.
Councilwoman Margaret Chin says the Chinese tradition has been going on for hundreds of years and that police should be "culturally sensitive." She says that she'll meet with police officials.