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Photo by Robert Stridiron
Photo by Robert Stridiron
Crime scene investigators outside the Ozone Park business where Hani Kassem was murdered on Oct. 23, 2017.

Federal prosecutors have charged three men in connection with the October 2017 murder of an Ozone Park business owner who was shot in front of his son in retaliation over unpaid debts.

Brooklyn resident Dwayne Ling, 55, who was arrested in January on local murder charges in the case, was indicted along with Ppassim Elder (a.k.a. Sam or Big Sam), 38, of Staten Island and Frederick McCoy, 52, of Brooklyn on federal murder and extortion charges for their alleged roles in the Oct. 23, 2017 killing of Hani Kasem, 64, inside his Ozone Park business.

According to U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, Kassem was allegedly shot to death after Ling, McCoy and an unidentified perpetrator came to Garden Valley Distributors on 99th Street near 101st Avenue seeking repayment of a debt that the victim’s son and business partner owed to Elder.

“As alleged in the court, defendant Ppassim Elder exploited a business owner’s need for a loan and sent his enforcers to try to collect it, ultimately leading to a senseless and tragic murder,” Donoghue said. “No son should ever watch his father be killed.”

Federal prosecutors said that Kasem’s son previously went to Elder seeking a loan in order to support Garden Valley’s operations, which Elder subsequently provided. In March 2017, Elder allegedly demanded that Kasem’s son fully repay the loan, but he was unable to comply with the request.

Thereafter, authorities said, Elder engaged in “a campaign of intimidation against the son and his family” in order to have the loan repaid. In one episode, Elder hired Mahdi Abdel-Rahim, 24, of Brooklyn to throw a rock through the home where Kasem and his son resided. Abdel-Rahim faces up to 20 years in prison after being indicted for participating in the extortion plot.

Prosecutors said that Elder then ordered Ling, McCoy and the other unidentified suspect to make the Oct. 23 visit to Garden Valley Distributors and get Kasem’s son to pay him back. When the trio arrived, they brandished firearms and pistol-whipped Kasem’s son, then shot Kasem in the face before fleeing the location.

Officers from the 102nd Precinct and EMS units responded to a 911 call about the shooting. Kasem went into cardiac arrest and died four days later at Jamaica Hospital; his son suffered minor injuries.

Federal agents tracked Elder down in Cleveland, Ohio on March 2 and took him into custody; he is being extradited back to Brooklyn. McCoy was arrested on March 7.

Ling, Elder and McCoy face a maximum term of life imprisonment if convicted on charges of extortionate collection of credit conspiracy, extortionate collection of credit, brandishing a firearm and murder.

Donoghue thanked the Queens District Attorney’s office for their cooperation in the investigation.

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