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Local News in Brief : Bogus Tape Ring Broken, Officials Say

A multi-agency task force Thursday made four arrests and broke up what was described as the largest counterfeit stereo cassette ring in the nation, allegedly producing as many as 40,000 phony music tapes a week.

Deputies from the sheriff’s departments in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, FBI agents and police from suburban Pomona, Fontana, Montclair and the Orange County cities of Costa Mesa and Westminster raided 12 locations beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday and ending at 11 a.m. Thursday.

They arrested four people, including the suspected ringleader, Najeh Badawi, 32, of Fontana, and seized plates, labels, cassettes and duplicating machinery, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Smith said.

The ring allegedly duplicated tapes of such popular artists as Michael Jackson, Pat Benatar, Run DMC, the Beastie Boys and ZZ Top. Counterfeit cassettes wholesale for 60 to 80 cents each, compared to $3.50 to $5.50 for legitimate tapes, officials said.

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