Karaoke bar in Maspeth loses its liquor license over repeated drug use, gaming & prostitution

Huang Jia Inc. in Maspeth had its liquor license suspended on April 18 for alleged drug use, illegal gaming on premises and prostitution.
Photo via Google Maps

Following two recent police raids that netted 15 arrests for drug and sex sales, the State Liquor Authority (SLA) announced on Thursday that it indefinitely suspended a Maspeth karaoke bar’s liquor license.

Huang Jia Inc., located at 55-30 58th St., garnered 22 violations of the state’s ABC Law, including disorderly premises for permitting prostitution, gambling, trafficking of controlled substances, failure to supervise and for becoming a focal point of police attention.

The violations were issued in the wake of two separate enforcement operations that the SLA and NYPD Vice Enforcement Division conducted on the premises on April 12 and April 14.

During the first raid, according to the SLA, cops and investigators executed a search warrant and recovered 97 packs of untaxed cigarettes, jars and bags full of ketamine, illegal gaming devices and records tracking prostitution activity. They also encountered various hazards including overcrowding and blocked exits.

The bar’s owner — Brooklyn’s Wen Chen, 40 — and eight others wound up in handcuffs on charges including criminal possession of a controlled substance, promoting prostitution and possession of illegal gaming devices.

Police and SLA agents returned to Huang Jia two days later and made six more arrests upon discovering ketamine in three separate karaoke rooms. A number of patrons were also seen consuming alcohol after closing hours.

Law enforcement agents had their eyes on Huang Jia for many weeks before the April enforcement operations, the SLA noted. Cops arrested patrons on three separate occasions in February for possessing controlled substances including ketamine. On Feb. 9, they also arrested a 19-year-old patron on a DWI charge near the premises and learned he had consumed alcohol at Huang Jia before getting behind the wheel.

On Feb. 22, police stopped an individual who had exited Huang Jia moments earlier for making an illegal U-turn. After pulling the vehicle over, cops found narcotics residue, a box containing empty drug vials and a Hello Kitty bag with more than $105,000 in cash inside of it. The driver and two other individuals inside the vehicle were subsequently arrested for money laundering and criminal use of drug paraphernalia.

Undercover officers who visited the establishment on March 15 and March 23 also received sexual solicitations from alleged prostitutes, according to a criminal complaint that the Queens District Attorney’s office provided. Workers offered to perform sexual favors in exchange for cash payments ranging from $300 for intercourse to $5,000 for an all-night romp.

“This licensee (Chen) has shown an abject disregard for the rules of the authority and the laws of this state, placing her patrons, police officers and the public at serious risk,” SLA Counsel Christopher R. Riano said. “Any licensee who jeopardizes public safety by fostering an environment where prostitution, narcotics sales and gambling run rampant will be shut down by the authority immediately.”

Court records noted that Chen was released without bail following her April 12 arrest, but must return to court on June 12.

As with similar emergency suspensions, the licensee is entitled to an expedited hearing before an administrative law judge. The suspension remains in effect until the SLA or a reviewing court may modify the order.

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