Skip to main content
October 26, 2016New York, NY, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

New York-area charities receive 30,000 jackets following seizures by ICE HSI

NEW YORK — New York Area charities received approximately 30,000 jackets as a result of a joint counterfeit investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York and the Nassau County District Attorney’s (NCDA) Office.

The jackets, seized by HSI in 2015, will eventually end up at nearly 100 local charities. In an event held Tuesday by the NCDA’s office, representatives from the charitable organizations, including The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Long Island, arrived with their empty trucks ready to be filled. Special agents from HSI New York were on hand to deliver the goods.

“The sale of counterfeit products are connected to smuggling and other criminal activities and can threaten the competitiveness of our local businesses,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI, New York. “HSI initiated this enforcement action as a collective front with the Nassau County DA’s office to show our continuous resolve to stop those involved in the distribution of counterfeit merchandise in the New York area.”

In December 2015, the HSI executed an arrest and search warrant for intellectual property rights violations at a Manhattan business. The business owner was taken into custody and arraigned. Based on this combined investigation, two cargo containers were identified, each identified as containing approximately 50,000 pieces of counterfeit trademark jackets. The estimated MSRP value for this seizure exceeded $10 million.  Each container was subsequently seized.

“We were able to take all of those coats, get them altered, take the fake labels off, get them tested — all of that testing was paid for by the defendant — make sure that they’re safe, and get them out on the street to the people who need them,” said Madeline Singas, district attorney for Nassau County.

One charity, The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Long Island, is known to serve more than 200,000 people each year through an array of services that help people overcome hardship. This number includes adults and children in need, and the donated jackets contribute to their efforts.

“I’m thrilled that they can take a negative and turn it into a positive. Now we have the ability to help thousands of people who would otherwise be in the cold without jackets,” said Terri Zenobio, director of Vincentian Services at SVDPLI. “This is a win win. A win for the prosecution and a win for the charities.”

The violator entered a guilty plea for the distribution of counterfeit goods and a deal was made for him to pay for the counterfeit trademarks to be removed from the jackets. These jackets were then safety tested and earmarked for donation to charitable organizations.