FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6, 2010
MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES CASH PAYMENT THAT SETTLES "COUNTERFEIT TRIANGLE" CASE BROUGHT BY THE OFFICE OF SPECIAL ENFORCEMENT
Settlement Turns Notorious Knock-Off Shopping Mall to Productive Use
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Chief Advisor to the Mayor for Policy and Strategic Planning John Feinblatt and Director of Special Enforcement Shari C. Hyman today announced a $800,000 payment to the City that settles the "Counterfeit Triangle" case and reopens a key block of Manhattan's Chinatown. The City will receive the payment from the owners of a single triangular block that was notorious for the sale of counterfeit goods. The lawsuit, a civil nuisance abatement action, was filed after a February 26, 2008 raid that shuttered 32 storefronts selling counterfeit goods. Under the terms of the settlement, the property owners must use the building, bounded by Canal, Centre, and Walker Streets, for legitimate purposes.
"Property owners should know that they are responsible for what goes on in their buildings and that hosting illegal activity like counterfeiting is a losing proposition," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Counterfeiting deprives legitimate businesses of customers and their employees of their paychecks. We will continue to go after the street-level counterfeiters, the wholesalers, and the property owners that look the other way."
In the raids that triggered the lawsuit, the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement seized counterfeit trademarked products, including counterfeit watches, jewelry and handbags purporting to be from Rolex, Tiffany, Coach, Gucci, Chanel and others. These products had an estimated street value of over $1 million.
"Selling counterfeit goods is a form of organized crime - it is built on forced sweatshop labor, often done by children - and frequently accompanied by violent turf wars," said John Feinblatt, Chief Advisor to the Mayor for Policy and Strategic Planning. "Counterfeiting has been involved in every illegal enterprise from money laundering to supporting terrorism. This remains an ongoing problem, but we will continue to go after any property owners that look the other way while their tenants flout the law."
"Counterfeit goods are inferior products that cheat everyone, from the consumer who purchases a poorly-made item, to the legitimate business owners cheated of sales, to the City who loses tax revenue," said Shari C. Hyman, Director of the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement. "Property owners should know that if they play host to illegal vendors, we will use the Nuisance Abatement law to shut down the buildings and exact a serious financial penalty."
As part of the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement investigation, 42 undercover purchases were made in a series of the buildings' 32 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 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 36 counterfeiting locations, seized some $52 million in knock-off goods and forced building owners and counterfeiters to pay $3 million in fines to the people of New York City.
Stu Loeser / Jason Post (212) 788-2958