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Post date: April 8 2005

Arrests Made In Fake Livestrong Distributor Case

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that his office has shut down an illegal distribution ring of counterfeit LiveStrong™wristbands with the arrest of five individuals.

These arrests represent the first time individuals have been criminally prosecuted for the illegal distribution of counterfeit LiveStrong™ wristbands.

All five individuals, three in Chelsea and two in Queens, were charged in felony complaints with one count each of Trademark Counterfeiting in the Second Degree, a class E felony. If convicted, they each face a maximum of one to three years imprisonment.

The arrests were made after investigators from the State Police and Attorney General’s Office executed search warrants at 34 West 27th Street in Chelsea - which is operated by Mettime Group, Inc. - and uncovered massive numbers of counterfeit LiveStrong™ wristbands. Last month, individuals at Mettime Group, Inc. sold over 1,000 counterfeit LiveStrong™ wristbands to undercover investigators.

A second search warrant executed Wednesday revealed that a Queens-based company, Eastlink International, Inc., imported thousands of counterfeit wristbands and then distributed them to Mettime Group, Inc. and to various retailers through New York City.

Over $100,000 in cash was seized at the Queens location. In addition, over 81,000 counterfeit wristbands were confiscated as a result of both search warrants at the two locations.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

At the Chelsea location, the individuals charged include: the owner of Mettime Group, Inc., Sui Ping Qu, 48, 34-19 69th Street, New York; Xi Chen, 33, of 143-30 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing; Ding Chai Yi, 42, of 37-10 64th Street, Woodside. At the Queens location, the individuals charged are Li Ping Liang Chen, 46 and Wei Hua Chen, 50. Both reside at 6846 Dartmouth Street, Queens.

The Attorney General acknowledged the assistance and cooperation of Senior Investigator Eliezer Roman and Investigators William Connolly and Eric Castellar from the State Police. Spitzer also thanked the U.S. Customs Service and Border Protection for their assistance.

Today’s charges are being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Johanna Sullivan of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau under the supervision of the Deputy Bureau Chief Viola Abbitt. Investigator Leslie Arp assisted in the investigation.

In an unrelated case announced five weeks ago, Spitzer obtained a settlement with two Rochester-area sport memorabilia retailers selling counterfeit LiveStrong™ wristbands. The owners of those stores were forced to disgorge the profits from the sales of the counterfeit wristbands and made a significant payment to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which sells the authorized wristbands engraved with LiveStrong™ for one dollar, with proceeds going to the foundation’s mission.