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07/07/2004  3:40 PM ET
Special task force to target counterfeit goods during All-Star Week
MLB, Houston Astros and law enforcement officials join to target counterfeiters, inform consumers
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have joined forces to crack down on the illegal production and sale of counterfeit Major League Baseball merchandise during 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Week, July 9-13, in Houston, it was announced today.

During a press conference at Minute Maid Park, representatives from the offices of Major League Baseball, the Astros, the Houston Police Department, the FBI, the District Attorney and the US Attorney's Office put potential counterfeiters on notice that counterfeiting is a crime and will be enforced to the full extent of the law.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force also warned that undercover investigators will be on the lookout for counterfeit merchandise at All-Star Week events at Minute Maid Park and the George R. Brown Convention Center along with manufacturing facilities, retail stores and sidewalk vendors in and around Houston.

Counterfeit merchandise will be subject to seizure, and people found guilty of producing, selling or trafficking counterfeit merchandise will be subject to civil and criminal penalties which could include fines of up to $2 million and imprisonment for up to 99 years under federal, state and local laws.

These efforts protect consumers from purchasing unlicensed merchandise, which often is made from low-quality materials and crafted in a sub-standard manner, and also protect the officially licensed manufacturers and legitimate vendors who invest money and other resources to provide consumers with high-quality licensed products.

"The creation of this task force, and all of our anti-counterfeiting efforts, are intended to protect our fans during 2004 Major League Baseball All-Star Week in Houston," said Ethan Orlinsky, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Major League Baseball Properties. "When our fans purchase Major League Baseball licensed products they expect a certain level of quality, and the goal of our Task Force is to ensure that fans receive the highest level of quality with every purchase at 2004 All-Star Week events."

During today's event, the Task Force displayed official Major League Baseball merchandise, which carries the official Major League Baseball, 2004 All-Star Game or Houston Astros logos, as well as special Major League Baseball holograms and hang tags to illustrate the difference between officially licensed and bogus products. The special Task Force will also be coordinating efforts to curtail the sale of counterfeit tickets in and around 2004 All-Star Week Events.

Members of this collaborative law enforcement effort who attended the press conference included: Pam Gardner, President, Business Operations, Houston Astros; Rob Matwick, Senior Vice President, Ballpark Operations, Houston Astros; Harold L. Hurtt, Chief of Police, Houston Police Department; Martha Montalvo, Executive Assistant Chief Houston Police, Houston Police Department; Dan Perales, Assistant Chief, Houston Police Department; Robert Dogam, Special Agent, Media Relations, FBI; Charles A. Rosenthal Jr., District Attorney, Harris County; Kate Dolan, Assistant District Attorney, Major Fraud Division, Harris County; Terry Clark, Chief, Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney's Office; Joe Porto, Assistant U.S, Attorney, Anti-Terrorism and National Security; U.S. Attorney's Office; Ethan Orlinsky, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Major League Baseball Properties; Kevin Hallinan, Senior Vice President, Security & Facility Management, Major League Baseball.

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