When it comes to busting cigarette tax schemes, the Queens District Attorney’s office is smoking this week.
The latest bust that Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced Thursday involved a married couple– Ben C. Chen, 41, and Qin F. Liu, 38, both of Syosset, Long Island– and Manhattan’s Qing D. Zheng, 53, who allegedly had thousands of untaxed cigarettes and counterfeit tax stamps inside a Flushing home.
Earlier this week, Brown touted the arrest of a Ridgewood man who kept a stash of bootlegged cigarettes and fake tax stamps inside an Ozone Park garage.
“Tobacco bootleggers who illegally bring thousands of untaxed packs of cigarettes from other locations to New York for resale cheat the public by failing to contribute their fair share of the dollars,” Brown said in a statement. “For every dollar or two dollars a store owner or consumer saves by purchasing an untaxed pack of cigarettes, the honest taxpayer becomes the victim by being forced to dip into his or her pocket to pay higher taxes.”
The Flushing bust, which occurred on Tuesday, was the culmination of an investigation by the Queens District Attorney’s Detective Bureau. Members of the squad executed a court-authorized search warrant of the residence on 60th Avenue near 136th Street, which Finance Department records indicated is owned by Chen and Liu.
Inside, prosecutors said, the detectives recovered 375 untaxed cigarette cartons and sheets 3,540 counterfeit Virginia tax stamps. Real tax stamps, Brown noted, come in rolls.
Detectives then executed another search of a 2014 Toyota Sienna registered to Liu after observing Zheng transferring a bag from his vehicle into the Toyota that Liu stood in front of while holding an envelope. Police recovered the envelope, which contained $3,310 in cash, as well as an additional $1,031 from Zheng’s possession and the bag, which contained a master case of 60 untaxed cigarette cartons and an additional 163.6 cartons of cigarettes.