By Stephen Stirling
Authorities said they confiscated more than 50,000 pairs of knock-off Nike sneakers and upwards of 40,000 fake designer handbags at the 129-02 Northern Blvd. warehouse owned by Fodera Foods. Police said no arrests had been made in the case as of Monday afternoon, but the investigation was active and ongoing.A spokeswoman for the Willets Point Industry and Realty Association, which represents a group of 13 of the largest area businesses, said the owners of family-owned Fodera Foods was not involved and knew nothing of the counterfeiting operation.”[Fodera] had no knowledge of what transpired there until… the police showed up at their place,” WPIRA spokeswoman Patricia Jones said. . “They were leasing the space and the person who was leasing the space was sub-leasing the space. They really have no comment outside of that.”John and Anthony Fodera, owners of the prominent food distribution company, could not be reached directly for comment.Authorities said they believe the goods are from China and had an estimated street value of $4.5 million. Had the items, which took eight tractor trailers to haul away, been genuine products, they would have been worth more than $16 million, authorities said.Police said the bust was one of the largest in city history.Fodera Foods and the other members of the association are currently locked in a fierce battle with the city, which wants to transform the area into a sprawling mixed-use development that could bring as many as 20,000 temporary construction jobs to the area.The business owners are angry that the city has painted Willets Point as a poster child of blight and neglect because the area lacks sewers, street lights and paved roads. The business owners are adamantly opposed to the redevelopment, saying the city should instead invest in the infrastructure to improve the area for the existing businesses rather than destroying it entirely.Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.