Mineola, NY - March 21, 2014 - Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced new grand jury charges against two brothers stemming from a major counterfeit operation involving more than $2 million worth of health and beauty products seized earlier this month from five locations in Nassau County.
Pardeep Malik, 59, of Plainview, and Hamant Mullick, 60, of Franklin Square, were arraigned today on a new grand jury indictment before Nassau County Court Judge William Donnino. Malik was charged with two counts of Trademark Counterfeiting in the 1st Degree (a C felony) and two counts of Trademark Counterfeiting in the 2nd Degree (an E felony). Judge Donnino set bail at $50,000 bond/$25,000 cash. Mullick was charged with four counts of Trademark Counterfeiting in the 1st Degree. Bail of $100,000 cash or bond from Mullick’s arraignment on March 7 was continued. When first arrested, they had been each charged with three counts of Trademark Counterfeiting in the 1st Degree and one count of Trademark Counterfeiting in the 2nd Degree. If convicted of the top charge, the defendants each face up to 15 years in prison, plus fines. Both defendants are due back in court on April 4.
They had been each charged with three counts of Trademark Counterfeiting in the 1st Degree and one count of Trademark Counterfeiting in the 2nd Degree.
“Those who manufacture and distribute counterfeit goods such as lip balms, shampoos and baby oil are in the business of circumventing not only valuable trademarks and patents, but essential safety standards as well,” DA Rice said. “These standards have been put in place to protect consumers from potential harm, which makes our partnership with local and federal officials, as well as industry manufacturers, all the more important.”
DA Rice said that working with the Nassau County Fire Marshals, the Valley Stream Fire Department, the NCPD DA Squad and ESU, U.S. Food & Drug Administration and U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, and representatives of and several of the manufacturers of the products being counterfeited, DA investigators found the defendants operating manufacturing, storage and showroom facilities in Franklin Square, Oceanside, Freeport, and Valley Stream. More than $2 million worth of alleged counterfeit products were seized and removed in four tractor-trailer trucks in a March 6 takedown of the operation.
The scheme was discovered when Valley Stream Fire Department officials, after responding to an April 2013 fire in their jurisdiction, returned to the location in January of this year for a follow-up to their investigation and stumbled upon what appeared to them to be a counterfeiting operation. Valley Stream FD officials notified Nassau County Fire Marshall officials, who went to the location, observed what appeared to be a counterfeiting operation and obtained samples of some of the product, which they sent to the manufacturers, who verified that the products were counterfeit.
After notifying Nassau County Fire Marshall officials and DA Rice’s office, samples of the products were sent to manufacturers, who verified that the products were counterfeits.
The brothers were found to be selling the goods to distributors. Products have been found to turn up in retail locations in New York, Pennsylvania and Florida and investigation is underway to determine if there are more locations. The distributors appear to be selling primarily or exclusively to smaller, independently-owned stores rather than large corporate chains.
One manufacturer has described this operation as the biggest known such manufacturing operation in the U.S., while another has called it the only known such manufacturing operation in the U.S. for their products.
The brothers were arrested on March 6 after court-ordered search warrants were executed at five locations in Nassau County. Investigators are trying to determine the entire scope of the scheme in terms of collaborators, where the fake products have been sold, and how much revenue the defendants have taken in as a result of the scheme.
DA Rice said that it’s not yet known whether there is a health risk associated with the counterfeit products, but that the seized products are being tested by labs right now to determine their safety and quality. Counterfeit products such as these potentially pose health risks because of the ingredients used and the lack of proper sanitary controls under which they are produced.
The counterfeit products found are facsimiles of major international brands owned by Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Procter and Gamble, and Unilever, including ChapStick, Johnson’s Baby Oil, Vicks VapoRub, Vicks Inhaler, Vaseline and Always sanitary pads.
Other products including over-the-counter cold medicines and painkillers were also found in the brothers’ “showroom” in Valley Stream, but the manufacturing source of those products is not yet known; no evidence of counterfeit medicine-making equipment was found by investigators yesterday.
Members of the public suspecting that a product is fake are urged to contact the manufacturer as well as local prosecutors. Suspected products purchased in Nassau County can be referred to DA Rice’s Economic Crimes Bureau by calling her Criminal Complaint Unit at (516) 571-3505.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Weiss and Assistant District Attorney Whitney Matthews are prosecuting the case for DA Rice’s Economic Crimes Bureau. Malik is represented by Steve Christiansen, Esq. Mullick is represented by Michael Brown, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.