Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, District Attorney Madeline Singas, Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, Sheriff Michael Sposato and representatives from the United States Department of Homeland Security announced on July 29 an arrest in connection with the manufacturing of counterfeit goods in Westbury, N.Y. More than $1 million in goods was seized along with embroidery machines, estimated to have illegally labeled 16 million articles of clothing. Counterfeiting is a billion dollar global industry with the United States being the number one destination for fake merchandise.
“Counterfeiting defrauds our consumers by providing them inferior quality goods and robs artists and designers of their work product – all while damaging the designer’s brand with poor quality knockoffs and undermining innovation,” said Mangano. “More disturbingly, history has shown us these crimes are often linked with other criminal activity including terrorism, the drug trade and organized crime. Most counterfeit goods are also produced in sweatshops notorious for violating child-labor laws and basic human rights. This arrest stops a major distribution chain in its tracks.”
On Thursday, June 16, County Deputy Sheriffs were executing a Landlord Tenant Warrant of Eviction at a commercial warehouse in Westbury and observed hundreds of boxes of assorted clothing and industrial type embroidery (brand name labels such as The North Face, True Religion, Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren and Uggs) staged to be attached to clothing. Deputy Sheriffs contacted the Nassau County Police Department’s Third Squad who determined that counterfeit merchandise was possibly being produced. With the assistance of the District Attorney’s Office, a counterfeit apparel expert determined, by viewing the merchandise from the opened exterior garage door, that counterfeit merchandise was in fact present. While waiting for a search warrant, the Third Squad was notified by the landlord that the tenant was responding to pay outstanding rent. The tenant arrived at the landlord’s place of business-two blocks from the warehouse–and was placed in custody by police and later charged with Trademark Counterfeiting. Representatives from the United States Department of Homeland Security are further investigating the possible use of seaports and airports as means of delivery and transport of the labels.
“This is an excellent example of a well-organized, multi-agency investigation which led to the disruption and dismantling of this elaborate counterfeiting operation,” Krumpter said. “This arrest will have a tremendous impact on the distribution of this unsafe, subpar merchandise.”