Five people were nabbed and more than $1.5 million in counterfeit goods were seized after a two-month investigation by Nassau and federal law enforcement authorities, Nassau police said.
From handbags to scarves, the fake designer goods were displayed for sale at hair salons, from the back of one man’s sport utility vehicle and at one woman’s home, according to the police asset forfeiture unit.
The items seized in six search warrants on various county locations were on display Tuesday at a news conference at the police academy in Massapequa held by acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas and homeland security investigators with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“This bag is a Birkin bag,” Singas said, holding up a colorful, fake handbag. “It normally sells for $21,000, and it was being sold here for a couple hundred dollars.”
Police said Fern Ciraolo, 53, of Hewlett Harbor, displayed counterfeit goods in her home and offered them for sale on Oct. 28 and Nov. 9. Ciraolo, of Harbor Road, was charged with two counts of second-degree counterfeiting and given a Dec. 21 court date. Ciraolo’s attorney information was not available Tuesday.
Jack Huzarsky, 74, of Syosset, tried to sell fake designer items from his Chevrolet Equinox on Nov. 8 in the rear parking lot of a Glen Cove Road shopping Center in East Hills, police said. Huzarsky, of Lincrest Street, was charged with second-degree counterfeiting and given a Jan. 6 court date. His attorney, Steven Gaitman of Hempstead, declined to comment Tuesday.
Alyssa Reichel, 49, of North Woodmere, had counterfeit goods for sale at her Ego Trip concession inside the Cheveux Day Spa and Salon in Woodmere on Oct. 13, police said. Reichel, of Cliffside Avenue, was charged with two counts of second-degree counterfeiting and given a Dec. 21 court date. Reichel’s attorney information was not available Tuesday.
This is the second time she’s been charged for the same felony, selling fake goods at the Woodmere salon, said Det. Sgt. Patrick Ryder, commanding officer of the county’s Asset Forfeiture unit.
Elsa Bonilla, 31, of, Westbury, had counterfeit merchandise for sale at the Elsy Salon in Westbury on Oct. 28 and Nov. 11, police said. Bonilla, of Brook Street, was charged with four counts of second-degree counterfeiting and given a Dec. 20 court date. Bonilla’s attorney information was not available Tuesday.
Ciraolo’s son, Justin Ciraolo, 21, was at home and had several types of narcotics, police said, among them marijuana and MDMA, or ecstasy. He was arraigned Tuesday in Nassau First District Court in Mineola on four counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, all felonies, and fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor. He was held on $200,000 bond or cash. His attorney, Robert F. Schalk of Mineola, could not be reached Tuesday.
Those arrested on the counterfeiting charges were issued appearance tickets because the crimes are not violent. But they could face up to four years of incarceration.
“Counterfeit crimes are not victimless,” Singas said.
The products are often made by workers, some children, in deplorable conditions, she said. Toxic materials used to manufacture the items are not tested and could be dangerous.
“Counterfeiting also costs American businesses more than $250 billion annually, more than the combined income of New York State and New York City,” Singas said, noting that the holiday season is prime time for sales.
“Before, people would say it’s a Bolex, not a Rolex,” said Jason Molina, assistant special agent of Homeland Security Investigations. “But it’s not that obvious anymore.”
Police asked consumers to be vigilant and only buy products from known retailers.
Industry experts estimated the value of the counterfeit goods at $1.5 million, officials said. Ryder said all goods would be destroyed.