Two men were arrested in connection with a counterfeit airbag scheme after Cook County Sheriff’s police seized at least two dozen counterfeit air bags from China at a Bridgeview auto diagnostics center.
Stanislaw Godenk, 31, of Hickory Hills, was charged with a felony count of counterfeit trademarks after the fake air bags were found on the premises of his business, Sheriff Tom Dart said in a news release.
Grzegorz Lepkowski, 37, who purportedly had the shipments of the Chinese pirated brand-name air bags shipped to his Elmwood Park home, was charged with misdemeanor counterfeit trademarks.
The alleged scheme began to unravel on Feb. 7, when Sheriff’s Police and special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations visited Lepkowski’s home in the 7900 block of West Lenora Lane in Elmwood Park.
Sheriff’s Police said that U.S. Customs and Border Protection had seized another shipment of counterfeit air bags from China earlier in the week that used Lepkowski's residence for the shipping address.
Investigators learned that Lepkowski had allegedly ordered the air bags for his friend, Stanislaw Godenk.
Godenk had been warned by U.S. Customs agents on three prior occasions of feds seizing shipments of counterfeit air bags from China being shipped to his business, G7 Auto Diagnostics, located in the 7200 block of 90th Place in Bridgeview.
A search of Godenk’s business turned up 31 air bags, of which 24 were alleged to be counterfeit, Sheriff's Police said.
The air bags were for Honda, Mazda, Ford, Lexus, Toyota, Chevrolet, and Volkswagen vehicles.
Godenk appeared Saturday in bond court at the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building and was released on his own recognizance.
The fake air bags are potentially dangerous, as they show consistent malfunctioning ranging from non-deployment to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studies.
The highway safety organization further advises the public to always work with their auto dealers and repair professionals to ensure they use the appropriate parts and equipment when replacing airbags.
Vehicle owners concerned they may have a counterfeit airbag installed in their car, can visit the NHTS website for more information.