|NEWARK – The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, the Seaside Heights Police Department, and several partner agencies today announced charges against the owner and two clerks at a Boardwalk shop, as well as the seizure of approximately $10,782.27 worth of suspected counterfeit brand-name items, including 154 suspected counterfeit watches, resulting from a joint investigation that is part of the Division’s “Safe Summer 2014” task force.
“Throughout New Jersey’s Shore communities, our Safe Summer initiative has promoted a safe and family-friendly atmosphere on New Jersey’s boardwalks by finding and eradicating problems from mercantile violations to the sale of contraband items such as illegal drugs, banned toys, and counterfeit goods,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.
Seaside Heights Police seized the suspected counterfeit merchandise on Friday, August 29, 2014, at “In The Cut,” a shop at 216 Boardwalk in Seaside Heights. The suspected counterfeit watches were sold with various brand names including Rolex, Burberry, Gucci, Michael Kors, and Casio G-Shock, with displayed retail prices ranging from $49.99 to $209.99. Other suspected counterfeit items included 37 vapor pens sold with the Snoop Dogg G-Pen brand name, each with a displayed retail price of $129.99. Other suspected counterfeit items included sunglasses sold with the Ray Ban brand name, and gloves sold with National Football League sports logos.
“The Seaside Heights Police Department, as well as the other agencies that joined our Safe Summer initiative, deserve real credit for helping us ensure that New Jerseyans had a safe and enjoyable summer on our beaches and boardwalks,” Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said.
In addition to the seizure, Seaside Heights Police on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 arrested “In The Cut” owner Georgios K. Kokotis with the fourth-degree charge of distribution of counterfeit goods. On Friday, August 29, Seaside Heights Police arrested store manager Ahamad Elkady, 24, of Brooklyn, New York, and charged him with the fourth-degree charge of distribution of counterfeit goods. Police also arrested store clerk Kwabenah A. Ayeh, 21, of Colts Neck, New Jersey, and charged him with a disorderly persons offense for allegedly giving cigarettes to a minor at the store. Following the seizures, the Seaside Heights Code Enforcement Office revoked the store’s business license. The business remains closed. The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas J. Boyd praised the support of Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman for accommodating his Department with investigators from the Division of Consumer Affairs. “The investigators proved to be extremely talented identifying indistinguishable merchandise during this investigation,” Chief Boyd said.
Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman noted that the arrests and seizure followed from the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Safe Summer 2014 task force. In this initiative, the Division of Consumer Affairs works with state, county, and municipal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to promote a safe and family-friendly environment in New Jersey’s shore communities.
The Division of Consumer Affairs’ Enforcement Bureau, Seaside Heights Police Department, Seaside Park Police Department, New Jersey Department of the Treasury, Ocean County Health Department, Seaside Heights Code Enforcement Office all participated in the investigation.
The “Safe Summer 2014” initiative also resulted in the following actions earlier this summer:
- The June 12, 2014 arrest by Atlantic City Police of a store owner and a clerk at “Angels and Saints Boutique,” a Boardwalk shop, on counts of possession of Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) and endangering the welfare of a child, as well as the immediate suspension of the store’s city mercantile license. Investigators at the store recovered bottles of a liquid substance, intended for consumption via vaporizing pens, which tested positive for synthetic marijuana, a Schedule I CDS. Police also seized $2,037 in U.S. currency and 49 switchblade knives.
- On June 26, 2014, Atlantic City Police arrested an owner and a clerk at “Boardwalk Outlet,” also a Boardwalk shop, on counts of possession of CDS, possessing and selling prohibited weapons, and dispensing contact lenses without a license. Police seized 10 packages of suspected synthetic marijuana as well as five butterfly knives, 14 brass knuckles, 18 expandable batons, numerous novelty contact lenses, and $1,644 in U.S. currency.
- On July 26, 2014, investigators from the Division of Consumer Affairs Enforcement Bureau partnered with the Atlantic City Police Department and Atlantic City Tourism Bureau to conduct store visits as part of Safe Summer 2014. This visit to multiple stores resulted in the voluntary surrender by shopkeepers of 292 vials of novelty contact lenses sold without prescriptions, 70 packets of supplements sold without meeting the labeling requirements for items intended for human consumption, 21 packets of smoke blends that did not meet the labeling requirements for items intended for human consumption, and four synthetic urine kits purportedly intended to subvert drug tests.
- Also as part of the Safe Summer 2014 initiative, on July 1, 2014 and July 24, 2014, investigators from the Division of Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection and Enforcement Bureau visited retail businesses along the boardwalks in Point Pleasant and Atlantic City to identify violations of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and related regulations. In Atlantic City, two Boardwalk shops voluntarily surrendered a total of 66 dangerous, contraband novelty lighters. The Division’s Office of Consumer Protection also cited eight Atlantic City Boardwalk shops for failing to provide price tags with items offered for sale.
The following agencies made Safe Summer 2014 possible: The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and its Office of Consumer Protection, Enforcement Bureau, Legalized Games of Chance Control Commission, and Office of Weights and Measures; the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety; the New Jersey State Police and its Office of Forensic Science; the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control; the New Jersey Treasury Criminal Investigation Unit; the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission; the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office; the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office; the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office; the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs; the Ocean County Division of Weights and Measures; the Ocean County Health Department; the Atlantic City Police Department; the Atlantic City Tourism District; the Atlantic City Office of Code Enforcement; the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department; the Seaside Heights Police Department; the Seaside Heights Office of Code Enforcement; and the Seaside Park Police Department.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey ) or 973-504-6200.