'Operation Illogic' takes down alleged multimillion-dollar counterfeit e-cigarette ring
A father and his two sons have been charged in an alleged multimillion-dollar counterfeit vaping product ring.
Investigators say a lengthy investigation led to the arrests of Asgar Ali, and his sons Moosa and Zar, of East Meadow. They say more than 10,000 pieces of counterfeit electronic cigarettes, e-cig refills and vape pens were seized by authorities, with an overall value around $1.5 million.
The three were charged with trademark counterfeiting. They pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors say the family was having the products shipped from China. They say they've made more than $4 million over the past two years.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder says the family used social media, Amazon, eBay and other methods to sell the products. Investigators say they were also selling the products at five different stores they owned, including a Card Smart in East Meadow.
"I know one thing the DA's office is going to have to prove -- that they actually knew that they were selling counterfeit trademark goods," says Kevin O'Donnell, attorney for the Ali family. "That's one hurdle the DA is going to have to jump over."
Officials say it's hard to tell if a product is counterfeit. They also say there are health concerns involved.
"One puff equals one cigarette, think about that," says Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. "It's highly addictive, so you have that aspect, and now when you've got them coming in illegally, you don't know what the heck is in here."
All three men are expected to post bail on the condition that their passports be seized. If convicted, they each face up to 15 years in prison.