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Memorial Day Weekend Counterfeit Activity Nets Seven Arrests by Secretary of State and Local Law Enforcement

May 29, 2008

Nearly $224,900 in counterfeit goods seized at Atlantic Beach Bikefest and Lancaster County Flea Market

COLUMBIA — The Secretary of State’s Office partnered with the Horry County Police Department and the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office last weekend in separate stings to arrest seven men charged with distribution of counterfeit merchandise, illegal distribution of recordings, and trafficking in counterfeit goods.

The counterfeit merchandise included jewelry, clothing, sunglasses, handbags, shoes, wallets, scarves, cell phone covers, DVDs and compact discs. Some companies misrepresented were Armani, Baby Phat, Chanel, Coach, Coogi, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Motion Picture Association of America, NCAA, NFL, Nike, Oakley, Recording Industry of America, Rocawear, and Versace.  The counterfeit items will remain in storage while the local law enforcement agencies await court orders to destroy them.

The Secretary of State’s Office worked with the Horry County Police Department to shut down three counterfeit operations in the Town of Atlantic Beach located on 30th Avenue South.  Arrested were Abdoulmounmouni Bizo of Greensboro, NC, Mamadou Sivaga of Ypsilanti, MI, and Paul Williams of Trenton, NJ.

Investigators with the Secretary of State’s Office also worked with the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office to arrest Robert Shivers and Eric Lamont Glasgow of Lancaster, Clifford V. Ferguson, Jr. of Charlotte, NC, and Johnnie Frierson of New York City who were operating at the Lancaster County Flea Market on Great Falls Highway.

“The sale of counterfeit merchandise is not a victimless crime.  It exploits our tourists, hurts manufacturers, retailers, and the economy,” said Secretary of State Mark Hammond. “I encourage consumers to question inappropriate pricing or markings on known ‘designer’ items, as well as where the items are being sold.”  Investigators became suspicious of these temporary retail operations as a result of complaints from customers and legitimate vendors.

“The Atlantic Beach Bikefest operation was successful as a result of state and local authorities working together to stop the consumers of Horry County from becoming the victims of those who try to sell counterfeit goods and deceive the public,” said Lt. Jamie DeBari of the Horry County Police Department.

“The Sheriff’s Office was very pleased with this joint operation with the Secretary of State’s Office,” said Chief Deputy Major Barry Faile of the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office. “This is a great example how different agencies can come together and tackle an ongoing problem and get results. We are looking forward to conducting more operations with the Secretary of State’s Office and other local, state and federal agencies in the future.”

Distribution of counterfeit merchandise carries a fine of up to $20,000 and/or five years imprison. Trafficking in counterfeit goods, as well as illegal distribution of recordings carries a five year prison term with fines up to $250,000.  Trafficking of counterfeit goods valued between $10,000 up to $50,000 is a felony with a fine up to $20,000 and five years in jail or both.  More stringent trademark legislation was a result of the joint efforts of law enforcement and the Secretary of State’s Office.

For more information regarding trademark violations or to register a mark, contact Secretary of State Mark Hammond’s office at (803) 734-2170.

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