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Daily Pilot

Authorities seize goods in hunt for counterfeits

Kiosks, stores and homes in several local cities were targeted by task force.

By Lauren Williams

8:18 PM PST, November 16, 2012

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Federal authorities were on the hunt for fashion no-nos this week as they executed warrants as part of an effort targeting counterfeit merchandise, officials announced Friday.

Orange County special agents with Homeland Security Investigations seized more than $200,000 worth of goods, working with police in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, along with other agencies, targeting retailers suspected of selling fake goods, according to a statement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees HSI.

Among the targeted locations were retail kiosks near the Huntington Beach Pier and the Newport Beach homes of individuals suspected of selling counterfeit goods, the agency said.

Other locations included a Tustin hair salon, a Garden Grove shoe store and homes in Westminster, authorities said.

The evidence seized is expected to be turned over to the Orange County district attorney's office for review to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.

Operation Fashion Faux Pas began in May, and in August agents for HSI working with local police found fake designer accessories, including hats, sunglasses and leather goods, at Cobbler's Corner in Laguna Beach, the agency said.

The store's owner, Dennis Verlinger, and suppliers have been indicted on state criminal charges, according to the ICE statement. Verlinger faces one felony count for allegedly selling counterfeit goods, according to court records.

Authorities estimated that a total of $820,000 worth of goods was seized over the course of the operation.

lauren.williams@latimes.com

Twitter: @lawilliams30