At 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, patrolmen of the New York Police Department’s 9th Precinct executed a search warrant for Mondo Kim’s music and video store, located at 6 St. Marks Place. The flagship store for the Kim’s Video chain, Mondo Kim’s is one of the city’s largest independent music retailers. “Five Hundred CD-Rs, Twenty-Seven Music DVDs, Nine DVD burners, and a scanner were among the items seized,” reports the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA), who issued a press release on June 9 to applaud the efforts of the NYPD. The well-known back-right corner of Kim’s ground floor, normally brimming with hip-hop mix tapes, had been raided completely, the section’s shelves conspicuously empty.
After the patrol evacuated customers from the store, they arrested five Kim’s employees: store Manager Theo Frimpong, 39; Diana Kinscherf, 19; Donald Stahl, 26; Charles Bettis, 29; and store Music Manager Craig Willingham, 32. All were charged with trademark counterfeiting in the second degree, and held at Manhattan Central Booking over the night of June 8.
Kim’s owner, Youngman Kim, has made no official statement about the raid. But Brad Buckles, Executive Vice President, Anti-Piracy, RIAA, issued the following: “The New York City Police Department’s steadfast commitment to the fight against piracy has stamped out yet another significant illegal operation. With actions such as these, New York City law enforcement continues to send a strong message to music pirates that this behavior simply will not be tolerated. Retailers who are making money on the backs of musicians and record companies by selling pirated CDs should know that this is absolutely no way to conduct a business.”
The confiscation comes less than a month after the RIAA brought copyright infringement lawsuits on behalf of the major record labels against seven retailers in New York City and three Florida cities. Physical goods piracy, the RIAA has long claimed, costs the U.S. recording industry more than $300 million a year; others dispute those figures.