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Five days before Christmas, police in Woodside raided an off-the-books discount shop they said specialized in offering deals on designer clothing that would have been too good to be true if not for the fact that they were pilfered products. The deeply discounted Abercrombie shirt was among the items that a police officer allegedly purchased during one of four visits he paid to the 48th Avenue shop between Dec. 11 and Dec. 20. When police raided the store operating out of a windowless basement beneath Martha Unisex Salon at 43-01 48th Ave., they allegedly recovered thousands of dollars in stolen goods, including clothing and footwear from Nike, Puma, Adidas, Ecko, Abercrombie and Fitch, North Face, Brooks Brothers and others."The room was completely packed with clothing," Police Officer Victor Castillo of the 108th Precinct said in the criminal complaint filed against the only man to be charged in connection with the operation. "It was difficult to walk around."Ancisar Mazo of Corona, who was allegedly manning the cash register at the store the day the police arrived, was charged with tax code violations, criminal possession of stolen property and reckless endangerment. A second man said to be working at the store when the undercover officer allegedly made his purchases had not been apprehended as of Dec. 21.The cramped nature of the impromptu store, which police described as about the size of two small cars parked lengthwise, posed a hazard. The space has no windows, police said. The boiler room - located behind the cash register - was piled high with boxes of shoes, garbage bags filled with jackets and beer."The rear door of the subject location was blocked by a rack of clothing, and there were also two locks on this door," which prevented it from being opened, Castillo said in the complaint. Police determined that Martha's Unisez Salon was not authorized by the state taxing body to collect or remit sales or use tax, a legal requirement for stores selling goods.Other items recovered at the basement shop included apparel from Hug Boss, Kenneth Cole, Esprit, Diesel, the Gap, Ralph Lauren, Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein, Armani Exchange, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Levi's, Nautica, Seven, Bulova, Seiko, Fossil and Chanel, the criminal complaint said.The total street value of the seized goods was unclear. But a Nike sales specialist authenticated the Nike products on sale for unreal discounts and determined they were in fact real, estimating their value at more than $3,000, the criminal complaint said. A ledger book recovered at the store included what police believed to be a record of the outfit's allegedly shady purchases for resale. The book contained one entry for 32 Abercrombie and Fitch blouses, which the shop's alleged operators picked up for $10 a piece, the criminal complaint said. They normally retail for $34.Police said they also found $5,513 in the store's cash register.The complaint said Mazo told authorities "he was planning to go legit next week."Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2005 Community Newspaper Group
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