The South Carolina Secretary of State's Office partnered with the Myrtle Beach Police Department and the United States Department of Homeland Security to raid three businesses on May 30.
Leon Koretzky, owner of Grasshopper at 1103 Ocean Boulevard, and David Ohana, owner of Nothing Over $7.95 at 6307 North Kings Highway, were charged with Trafficking in Counterfeit Goods. Beki Boutboul of Best For Less was charged with Distribution of Counterfeit Goods.
The counterfeit merchandise included hats, clothing, jewelry, stickers and heat transfers used in the manufacture of counterfeit merchandise.
Manufacturers misrepresented were Major League Baseball, Nike, Hello Kitty, Monster, Browning, Fox Racing, National Football League, National Basketball Association, Jack Daniels, Warner Brothers, Polo, Casio and Harley Davidson.
Retail value of the seized goods was estimated to be $275,270.
Law enforcement was made aware of this counterfeit merchandise from the trademark owners themselves.
"This shows that there continues to be a problem with counterfeit goods being brought into Horry County," said Chief Warren Gall of the Myrtle Beach Police Department. "We will continue to work in partnership with the Secretary of State's Office to protect consumers from individuals who attempt to sell fake and fraudulent goods."
"Counterfeiters cheat legitimate businesses of income, and by doing so, cheat American workers out of good-paying jobs at a time when we need them most," said Patrick McDavid, resident agent in charge of the ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Charleston. "Most importantly, they cheat their customers with low quality knock-off products masquerading as the real thing. Homeland Security Investigations will continue to work with our state and local partners to combat this illegal activity."
Distribution of counterfeit merchandise carries a fine of up to $20,000 and/or five years imprisonment. Trafficking in counterfeit goods carries a five year prison term with fines up to $250,000. Trafficking of counterfeit goods valued between $10,000 and $50,000 is a felony with a fine up to $20,000 and five years in jail or both.
More stringent trademark legislation was passed in 2006 as 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 trademark in the State of South Carolina, contact Secretary of State Mark Hammond's office at (803) 734-2170.