NEW YORK — About $750,000 worth of counterfeit merchandise was seized and 14 people have been arrested over the past 10 days following an investigation, Denis Dillon, Nassau County District Attorney, said Wednesday.

This story first appeared in the November 20, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The defendants have been charged with selling leather goods using such trademarks as Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Burberry, Kate Spade, Cartier, Hermès, Gucci and Rolex, in such areas as Woodmere, Island Park, Williston Park, Merrick and Mineola, N.Y.

“We have had an investigation for about six weeks,” said Kevin Higgins, assistant district attorney of Nassau County.

According to Higgins, a female detective from the District Attorney’s Squad of the Nassau County Police department was in a Bethpage delicatessen store getting lunch when an employee approached her with quality Louis Vuitton imitations. She engaged the employee in conversation, then contacted Louis Vuitton, which put her in touch with Abacus Security. The Nassau County Police Department began its investigation, went on location and started making purchases.

Higgins said, “When we arrested these people, they said they made purchases on Canal Street, but are they being truthful? I don’t know, we are still investigating.”

“It’s quite a success,” he continued. “I doubt any of them would go to prison, but we crippled their business.”

Robert Chavez, president and chief executive officer at Hermès of Paris, the U.S. subsidiary of Hermès International, said, “Hermès continues to be diligent in working with the law enforcement agencies to protect customers and our own intellectual property rights. We have ongoing efforts, and some of these things take time. [What happened] today was the result of a lot of efforts that are ongoing.”

In recent months, there have been several successful moves against counterfeit merchandise. Last September, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, a joint New York and New Jersey agency, seized almost $1 million worth of counterfeit goods, including handbags, wallets, shoes and other items bearing the Gucci and Louis Vuitton names.

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