Prohibited Merchandise at Flea Markets in Utah

Utah has nearly 30 flea markets and swap meets registered around the state and while most of the vendors obey the laws regarding items they can sell, occasionally prohibited merchandise is put up for sale.

Swap Meets and Flea Markets Act

Flea Markets

Photo by: Joel Kramer

The Swap Meets and Flea Markets Act found in Utah Code Title 13 Chapter 32 defines swap meets and flea markets act as “an event at which personal property is offered for sale or exchange:

(i) by two or more persons and a fee is charged to vendors ( . . . ) or to prospective buyers for admission ( . . . ); or

(ii) if the event is held more than six times in any 12-month period, regardless of the number of [vendors] or the absence of fees.”

If swap meets or flea markets are done to raise money for a fundraiser such as a charity event or if the items sold are new and being sold by a representative of the manufacturer, then these instances would not need to be regulated under the Swap Meets and Flea Markets Act.

Prohibited Merchandise

Flea Markets

Photo by: gastondog

Almost anything can be found at a flea market, however there are three specific types of merchandise that are prohibited:

Baby food. Utah Code 13-32-103 states “food product which is manufactured and packaged specifically for consumption by a child under two years of age” is not to be sold by vendors, unless they are a distributor from the company.

Over the counter drugs. According to 13-32-103, “nonprescription or over-the-counter drug or medications other than herbal products, dietary supplements, botanical extracts, or vitamins” are also prohibited.

Makeup or toiletries that can expire. Upon first glance at the last sentence of the section, a reader might assume they mean makeup or toiletries that are past their expiration. Surprisingly it states any “cosmetic or personal care product that has an expiration date.” If there is a date stamp, it cannot be sold at swap meets.

Caution to vendors

Transaction Receipts

Photo by: Steven Depolo

For those who choose to use flea markets as a business opportunity or a side gig, it is important that they follow the above rules concerning prohibited merchandise as well as the rules in place regarding receipts and transaction records. Failure to follow swap meet and flea market laws can result in an infraction.

Pyramid Scheme and Multi-Level Marketing

When people learn of a business that encourages recruiting they often assume it to be a pyramid scheme, when in fact it may just be another multi-level marketing company. While both may give incentives to their reps for recruiting others, one is illegal while the other is simply frowned upon by those not trusting of “get rich quick” ventures.

Pyramid Scheme Act

Photo by: Stephen Day

Photo by: Stephen Day

Utah’s Pyramid Scheme Act defines a pyramid scheme as “any sales device or plan under which a person gives consideration to another person in exchange for compensation or the right to receive compensation which is derived primarily from the introduction of other persons into the sales device or plan rather than from the sale of goods, services, or other property.” Anytime the recruiting is the only reason or main purpose of the business, versus selling products or services, charges for violation of the Pyramid Scheme Act may result.

Multi-level Marketing

Photo by: That Hartford Guy

Photo by: That Hartford Guy

Multi-marketing businesses, otherwise known as direct-sales or network marketing, suffer from the bad reputation of pyramid schemes as they have similar business approaches. Multi-level marketing mimics a pyramid scheme model since the business thrives when recruits are encouraged to sign on. Those recruits can recruit others and so on. Those individuals who are higher up the recruiting ladder earn money from those on lower levels. This may sound exactly like a pyramid scheme, however the money that those in multi-marketing businesses make isn’t made strictly by recruiting; there is actually a product to be sold. In fact, most of the income is made from the sale of products or service. Certainly, those at the top earn more money in the long run than those who are newly recruited, but the business plan is appropriate and legal.

Trouble for genuine businesses

Photo by: Ben Helps

Photo by: Ben Helps

Multi-level marketing is usually done from home, online, or door to door sales. Unfortunately, because multi-level marketing representatives don’t have a specific business location or warehouse where products are stored, it may be harder to prove that their business has a product to sell. Not having the product on hand can make it difficult to prove that it is an authentic business, versus a pyramid scheme. This is especially difficult for businesses that are just starting out, and may not have thought out their product thoroughly. Many play it safe by hopping on the bandwagon of some of the major well-known multi-level marketing companies such as:

• Avon
• Mary Kay
• Scentsy
• Melaleuca
• Herbalife
• Amway
• The Pampered Chef
• doTerra
• Synergy

Others with an entrepreneur spirit choose to create their own business or go with companies that are just getting started. This is where many run a risk of facing pyramid scheme charges.

Penalties for running a pyramid scheme

According to Utah Code 76-6a-4 or the Pyramid Scheme Act, “Any person who knowingly organizes, establishes, promotes, or administers a pyramid scheme is guilty of a third degree felony.” Persons charged with a 3rd degree felony may face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Jail time just for participating

Photo by: my_southborough

Photo by: my_southborough

Time behind bars isn’t only for those who are the masterminds of the pyramid schemes. Up to six months in jail can result from a person who merely joins the illegal business model. This is also discussed in Utah Code 76-6a-4. “Any person who participates in a pyramid scheme only by receiving compensation for the introduction of other persons into the pyramid scheme rather than from the sale of goods, services, or other property is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.” When creating or joining a multi-level marketing company, make certain that the company is doing everything possible to avoid pyramid scheme charges. For individuals who planned a business before considering the product, or for those who got caught up in a scheme that turned out to be illegal, contact a criminal defense attorney.

Aggravated Robbery Suspect Robbed Same Pharmacy Once Before

aggravated robbery suspect robbed same pharmacy

Photo: DWT110/Wikimedia Commons

On Wednesday, March 18, a La Verkin man who was arrested following the March 11 robbery of a Hurricane pharmacy was charged with more than just aggravated robbery for that incident. He was also given additional charges for a previous robbery at the same location almost a year earlier to the date.

Don’t Return to the Scene of the Crime, Especially not to Rob it Again

According to an article in KSL News, just before noon on March 11, Jonathan S. Forest, 37, entered the Hurricane Family Pharmacy, displayed what was later discovered to be an airsoft gun, and made demands for prescription medication.

A witness to the robbery followed Forest after he left the pharmacy. A call to 911 resulted in an arrest of Forest within 6 minutes of the robbery. Forest had the prescription medication and black airsoft gun on his possession. This led to the original charge of aggravated robbery.

However, between his arrest and conviction on March 18, officers were able to link Forest to another robbery of the same pharmacy on March 31, 2014. After obtaining a search warrant for Forest’s place of residence, detectives located evidence “consistent with the first robbery.”

As a result of these new discoveries, Forest was charged with aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and nine counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Airsoft Guns Still Result in Aggravated Robbery

According to the Utah Criminal Code 76-6-302 as it applies to this story, aggravated robbery is defined as the act of someone carrying out a robbery and in the process, using or threatening to use “a dangerous weapon as defined 76-1-601.” In that article of the Utah Criminal Code, a dangerous weapon is defined as “any item capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.”

While some may question whether an airsoft gun could cause “serious bodily injury,” the article goes on to define a dangerous weapon as “a facsimile or representation of the item, if…the actor’s use or apparent intended use of the item leads the victim to reasonably believe the item is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury; or the actor represents to the victim verbally or in any other manner that he is control of such an item.”

Aggravated robbery is considered a first degree felony, punishable by anywhere from five years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If you know someone who has been charged with aggravated robbery, don’t leave that wide interpretation of punishment in the hands of a public defender. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.