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ICE searches stone retailer

August 03, 2010|By Tom Ragan, tom.ragan@latimes.com

Special enforcement agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement served a search warrant Tuesday morning at the Phoenician Stone, then proceeded to confiscate some of the material by pulling various slabs of stones and boxes onto the sidewalk in front of the store in Corona del Mar on Pacific Coast Highway.

Nobody was arrested during the search, but Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman with the federal agency's Western Region, said it was part of an on-going criminal investigation, the details of which will be released in time.

"This was not an immigration matter," she said. "This was customs-related, but that's all I can tell you. Believe me, I like a good story and when everything comes out, I'll be able to comment on it. But right now we're dealing with allegations and there have been no charges filed."

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According to the Phoenician Stone website, the owners of the store, which is at 3034 E. Coast Highway, are Joseph and Ron Sage, the grandchildren of Joseph Sage, Sr., who planted the seed for such a business back in the 1940s.

"When World War II ended, he started his general contracting company," according to the website, referring to Sage Sr. "Contracts he secured included working in historical medieval alleyways along Ancient Roman and Grecian ruins. Soon his passion for architectural antiques turned into a family business that his grandsons and his family members in Europe still manage to this day."

Phoenician Stone, with locations in Corona Del Mar and Los Angeles, is more showroom than store, the website says.

It mostly deals in types of stone that, according to the website, "is a sight for all history buffs to see."

"The flooring is a collection of pavers and stones, samples of what customers can purchase, that average in age from hundreds to thousands of years old," the website states. "Old world relics, mantles, Roman and Byzantine mosaic flooring suspended on walls, columns from Corinthian Greece mixed with hand-carved replicas crafted by Phoenician Stone artisans fill up the well-lit space. Every piece offers a story about ancient times."

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