What is likely being hailed as a major victory for law enforcement, Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown has announced the arrest of more than two dozen individuals involved in a Trademark Counterfeiting enterprise and the recovery of more than $500,000 in cash and fake goods with a street value of approximately $750,000. According to the Queens DA’s press release, the investigation that netted the haul of contraband and cash was dubbed “Operation Finish Line.” A three year investigation by prosecutors, Operation Finish Line netted the indictment of multiple crews as as well as businesses. These alleged organized crews imported imposter goods from China and distributed fake and fraudulent designer brands, including True Religion and Polo, throughout the United States. These rings generated approximately $10 million annually in their alleged counterfeit scheme.
While the individual and corporate defendants face a variety of crimes, many of the offenses are extremely serious that could result in as much as fifteen or twenty five years in prison. In fact, a dozen of those arrested in Queens face the charge of Enterprise Corruption (New York Penal Law 460.20). NY PL 460.20, is New York State’s version of the organized crime statute used by federal authorities to go after organizations such as the mob. Where there is a common goal, criminal scheme and ascertainable structure, prosecutors pursue this crime as the “hammer” in a criminal case for a very clear and obvious reason. It is certainly not missed by an experienced New York Criminal defense attorney who practices with regularity in criminal and supreme courts. Simply, if you are convicted of Enterprise Corruption as a person who has no prior brushes with the criminal justice system you will still face a minimum term of one to three years in state prison and as much as eight and one third to twenty five years.
Less serious, but by no means insignificant, the felony Trademark Counterfeiting Crimes faced by various defendants can also lead to significant incarceration. Trademark Counterfeiting in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 165.73) is a “C” felony with a potential sentence of up to fifteen years in prison while Trademark Counterfeiting in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 165.72) is an “E” with a potential sentence of as many as four years in custody.
One has to objectively believe that prosecutors will be seeking significant sentences and pleas for the defendants arrested in these alleged schemes. Whether the crimes involve fake cigarettes or bogus clothing, the time and money spent on an investigation of this magnitude is significant. Equally significant is the amount of bail placed on these defendants that ranges from the tens of thousands to a quarter million dollars.
In the past few years, prosecutors in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office have ramped up their investigations involving white collar and pseudo white collar crimes. It seems as if they have outpaced other New York City District Attorney’s Offices in terms of the number of wires and long term investigations. Whether that perception is a reality is not known to me. Even if it is accurate, however, do not underestimate the number of these crimes pursued in Manhattan and Brooklyn nor the thoroughness of their respective investigations, indictments and arrests.
To learn more about Enterprise Corruption, Trademark Counterfeiting and related crimes and investigations, follow the links found here or search the NewYorkCriminalLawyerBlog.Com. Additional information such as legal decisions, cases in the news and criminal statutes can be found both on the blog as well as at New-York-Lawyers.org.
Saland Law PC is a New York law firm dedicated to criminal defense in the metropolitan New York City region. Both founding criminal defense attorneys, Elizabeth Crotty and Jeremy Saland, served as prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office prior to starting the criminal defense practice.
WHAT: Operation Finish Line – Trademark Counterfeit Rings WHERE: Queens County District Attorney’s Office CRIMES: Enterprise Corruption, Trademark Counterfeiting and Other Crimes WHO: Bosses – Izak Chaloh and Yosif Mamrout, Investors – Bobak Ahouraie and Gabi Sakkal, Importers – Alla Kharma, Manufacturers – Daoud Chaloh and Suk B. Yi, Shippers/Money Agents/ Importers – Global Express Services, Inc., Wei Feng Cao and Yu Zhen Cao, Wholesale Buyers – Samantha Defreitas, Xiu Yin Jin, Laureano Lopez and Jan Sanandaji. Other Crews – Jian Zhong Jian, Xiu Wei Ye, Heras Campverde, Che.E. Kang Cheng, Bobak Ahouraie, Wei Feng Cau and Zhi Wei Liang.