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Two charged in Elmhurst CD, DVD bootleg scheme

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Wen Miao Zhang, 36, and Xiaofei Huang, 29, both of 41-59 55th St. in Elmhurst, and Wei Jian Hu, 38, and Xiao Zhen Qu, 38, both of 40-85 Denman St. in Elmhurst, were charged with trademark counterfeiting, criminal possession of forgery devices and failure to disclose the origin of a recording, Brown said.All four face up to 15 years behind bars if convicted, Brown said."A counterfeiting mill with a high-volume duplicating capacity like this factory is capable each year of fleecing the motion picture association and the recording industry of millions of dollars in revenues," Brown said. "(They are) cheating companies and artists out of substantial sums in lost royalties and ripping off honest consumers who are forced to pay higher prices for their listening entertainment." The sale of counterfeit DVDs and CDs is an issue that has caught at least one northeast Queens politician's attention.In November, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) wrote a letter to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly asking for a crackdown on peddlers selling counterfeit CDs in a Whitestone shopping center."A number of illegalities are involved in the above, i.e. the nonpayment of sales tax, no payroll tax, no corporate taxes, all of which legitimate merchants do pay," Padavan wrote in his letter dated Nov. 3. "Now, we all know that this problem is not isolated to any one area but is pervasive throughout the city. Aside from the obvious illegalities cited above, the loss of revenue to the city of New York runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars."After Padavan wrote his letter, city Comptroller William Thompson issued a report saying the city loses more than $1 billion to counterfeit merchants each year.Brown said fake DVDs are sold for between $5 and $10 apiece - as compared with the retail prices of up to $20 - in neighborhood retail stores, flea markets and by street vendors all over the city. The movie industry estimates it loses $3 billion a year worldwide because of the sale of counterfeit films.Fake CDs are sold for between $4 and $5 vs. the in-store prices of $15 to $18, causing the recording industry to lose as much as $400 million a year, Brown said.The four defendants were being held pending arraignment last week in Queens County Criminal Court.Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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