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Intellectual Property Rights

Owners of Bay Area smoke shops charged with selling counterfeit goods

OAKLAND, Calif. - Two men who own three Bay Area smoke shops have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges stemming from a six-month probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) into allegations they trafficked in counterfeit goods.

Amed Mohammed Obaid, 48, of Oakland, and Faisal Mohamed Kaid Alomari, 34, of Richmond, Calif., were arrested Tuesday by ICE HSI agents. They made their initial appearances in federal court here Tuesday and were each released on $100,000 bond. The defendants' next court hearing is set for Oct. 6, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California.

According to the indictments, which were handed down Sept. 30 and unsealed Tuesday, Obaid and Alomari allegedly sold counterfeit apparel and athletic shoes at their Bay Area stores. Obaid owns the San Pablo Smoke Shop in San Pablo and the Rex Market in Oakland. Alomari owns the Richmond Smoke Shop in Richmond. The indictments allege the stores sold goods bearing fake trademarks for companies such as Nike, True Religion and Roca Wear. Obaid was charged with six counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods. Alomari faces two counts.

"The sale of counterfeit goods is by no means a victimless crime," said Mark Wollman, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in San Francisco. "Intellectual property theft and trademark piracy rob Americans of jobs, stifle American innovation and promote crime. As cases like this make clear, there are serious consequences for those involved in trafficking and selling counterfeit or pirated goods."

The maximum statutory penalty for each count of trafficking in counterfeit goods is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $2 million, plus restitution if appropriate.