Jailed tanning studio boss admits fraud
A tanning studio boss in jail for drugs crimes set up a fake goods racket from his prison cell.
Darren Bradley arranged for handbags and clothes from top designer brands to be sent to Elite Tanning and Beauty Ltd, which is co-owned by his wife Sharon.
He was given an extra 10 weeks in jail after admitting the scam.
More than 200 items bearing the brands included Pandora, Vivienne Westwood, Tiffany, Paul's Boutique and Chloe, were delivered to the shop.
Wolverhampton Magistrates Court heard yesterday that if they had been sold as genuine, they would have valued just under £100,000.
Trading Standards officers swooped on the store, in High Street, Bilston, following a tip-off from the Brand Protection Service and seized clothes, handbags and watches that were still in bin bags and cardboard boxes.
Bradley is currently serving time at Layhill Prison, Gloucestershire.
He was produced to Wolverhampton Magistrates Court yesterday and admitted eight counts of fraud.
Elite Tanning and Beauty Ltd admitted 16 counts of fraud. All charges against Mrs Bradley were dropped.
Mrs Bradley told Trading Standards officers that she had no idea her husband had orchestrated for fake goods to be delivered to the store.
Wolverhampton Trading Standards spokesman Peter Calvert said that she told officers probing the case that she had received a phone call from her husband in prison telling her to expect a delivery of goods to be sold in the boutique.
She insisted she had not known where the delivery had come from, how it had been arranged and that she had no idea that the goods were counterfeit.
Already in prison for drugs offences and due to be released in September 2014, the court heard how company director Bradley had the items sent to the shop, and were found in boxes and bin bags throughout the tanning shop and newly formed boutique section of the business. Mr Robert Marshall, prosecuting, told the court when trading officers swooped Mrs Bradley said she had been unaware that the items were coming.
Of the 221 items seized during the raid in September 2011, 216 were discovered to be fake.
Miss Kate Thomas, defending, said the items had not been on display although they were on the shop floor, and that there was no evidence to show they had been sold and they weren't priced up. "He is a serving prisoner," she said.
"This was an opportunistic crime. He met someone in prison and he thought this would be a good idea to help his wife's new part of the business.
"But by doing this he has placed the business in jeopardy."
Bradley's latest crimes come two years after he was jailed for eight years after being unmasked as an armed drug dealer.
Wolverhampton Magistrates Court heard that Bradley's tanning and beauty business made a profit of around £30,000 a year, but was currently under investigation under the Proceeds of Crime act following Bradley's drugs offences.
As well as jailing Bradley for an extra 10 weeks, District Judge Mr Michael Wheeler also ordered the business to pay £8,000 for the offences, and £500 in costs.
See the Express & Star's video report from when Darren Bradley was jailed in 2010
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