February 26, 2008Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement Wins Court Action to Shutter 32 Illegal Storefronts Today
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Director of the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement Shari C. Hyman today announced that the City raided dozens of storefronts on a single triangular block of Manhattan's Chinatown that are notorious locations for the sale of counterfeits. The counterfeit goods seized by the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement and the Police Department's (NYPD ) 5th Precinct and Patrol Borough Manhattan South, including fake Rolex, Coach and Gucci products, have an estimated street value of over $1,000,000. In an accompanying lawsuit, the City won a Temporary Restraining Order to shutter the storefronts. The owner of the so-called Counterfeit Triangle will have to replace the counterfeit vendors with legitimate businesses and pay a substantial fine to the City before the buildings can be reopened. Today's seizures and lawsuit are the culmination of a two-month investigation by the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement and the NYPD.
"Counterfeit goods cheat the City, consumers, legitimate business owners, and trademark holders and their proliferation is standing in the way of the revitalization of Chinatown," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Not only are counterfeit goods usually inferior in quality, they are sold by unscrupulous merchants that have been linked to money laundering operations. I want to make hosting counterfeiters a losing business proposition for property owners, and that's why after we seize counterfeit goods we are using the Nuisance Abatement law to close the buildings down."
"Each corner of this triangle flouted the law and lowered the quality of life in the area. Using Nuisance Abatement laws we will make sure this activity is gone for good," said Shari C. Hyman, Director of the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement. "This is the largest single operation my office has conducted, and I hope the entire Counterfeit Triangle is transformed into legitimate tax-paying businesses."
"We need consumers to help us instead of burying their heads in the sand," said Commissioner Kelly. "No matter how 'victimless' a crime may appear, when you scratch the surface you are bound to find some unpleasant realities. That's true in the knock-off trade. The NYPD will continue to do its part to stop the counterfeiters. But we need educated consumers to do their part too."
"A tremendous thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and the Office of Special Enforcement for recognizing the pervasive crime of trademark counterfeiting and stepping up to the plate," said Brian W. Brokate, Partner at Gibney, Anthony & Flaherty, LLP acting as General Counsel for Rolex. "Rolex applauds all of their efforts, particularly today's raid and lawsuit."
"We want to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Kelly, Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt and Office of Special Enforcement Director Shari Hyman for this operation, the size and scope of which is unprecedented," said Robert Barchiesi, President of the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition. "It is a sign that this Administration takes trademark infringement seriously.
The Counterfeit Triangle, a notorious location for the sale of counterfeit goods, is bounded by Canal Street, Walker Street and Centre Street, and consists of 32 storefronts. As part of the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement investigation, 42 undercover purchases were made in various storefronts. The investigation uncovered counterfeits of Coach, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbanna, Dior, Prada, Rolex, Fendi, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Dora the Explorer and Oakley. The building addresses in the Counterfeit Triangle that were the subject of today's raids are 224 - 230 Canal Street; 232 Canal Street; 234 - 238 Canal Street; 106 Baxter Street; 112 - 116 Walker Street; 118 Walker Street; 120-124 Walker Street; and 152-156 Centre Street.
Mayor Bloomberg created the Office of Special Enforcement by Executive Order in December, 2006. It replaced the former Office of Midtown Enforcement and expanded its activities to all five boroughs. The Office of Special Enforcement is responsible for coordinating enforcement efforts across City agencies to address quality of life issues related to notorious adult use locations, lawless clubs, trademark counterfeiting bazaars and illegal conversions of apartment buildings into hotels. The Office of Special Enforcement and its predecessor has, since 2003, shut down 23 counterfeiting locations, seized some $60 million in knock-off goods and forced building owners and counterfeiters to pay $1.5 million in fines to the people of New York City.