Authorities raided 12 stores, arrested 10 merchants and seized 8,900 counterfeit trademarked items, along with $40,000 in cash, during a raid Thursday afternoon on the Wildwood Boardwalk.
Al Brannen, the Wildwood City Commissioner who oversees public safety, said police informed him the raids involved a dozen shops allegedly selling certain unlicensed brands.
Wildwood police conducted the raid with the assistance of private investigators hired by the companies whose trademark names are on the goods.
The merchandise included T-shirts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, sunglasses, hats and heat transfers — all bearing trademarked logos or insignia from designers such as Fox Racing, D.C. Clothing, Dolce & Gabbana, Monster Energy and Rock Star Energy Drink, said Stuart Drobny, of Stumar Investigations, a Philadelphia-based company that specializes in intellectual-property investigations.
Drobny, who was on the scene at the Wildwood Boardwalk, said confiscated merchandise included “hundreds of sweatshirts, T-shirts, sweatpants, a variety of stuff.”
The merchants arrested were:
_Udi Hayut, 41, of Hisroian, N.Y., who worked at Spirit USA;
_Erez Ascanderani, 30, of Wildwood, who worked at Beachwear Fashions;
_Lior Giset, 44, of Wildwood, who worked at Captain Deckens;
_David Einy, 24, of Plantation, Fla., who worked at Wild Gifts;
_Fady Abdelmalek, 27, of Wildwood, who worked at Papillon III;
_Heidy Estrella, 27, of Wildwood, who worked at High Octane;
_Shmuel Anijar, 55, of Hollywood, Fla., who worked at Shore Shop;
_Walid Elshazli, 21, of Burke, Va., who worked at Papillon;
_Joseph Benatar, 57, of Hollywood, Fla., who worked at Fortune Sportswear;
_Joseph Sakkal, 54, of Long Branch, Monmouth County, who worked at Bobby’s Place.
All of the suspects were charged with violating a counterfeit mark, a fourth-degree crime, and violating a city ordinance over custom-garment forms. They were released on a court summons. Police said Benatar also was charged with obstruction of justice. He allegedly removed money from a safe while police were executing the search warrant and attempted to hide it under a mattress at 3710 Boardwalk, police said.
The investigation has been ongoing for several months, Drobny said.
“Some of the merchants attempt to take advantage of the seasonal tourists,” Drobny said. “Most, but not all, of the stores (on the Boardwalk) are legitimate, hardworking stores,” he said.
“All the other stores are being hurt by this, as well as the consumers,” he said.
In Atlantic City earlier this week, police raided and shut down a Boardwalk store selling samurai swords.
Staff Writer Michael Miller contributed to this report.
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