The Little Neck family that allegedly bootlegged cigarettes together got locked up together this week.
Nicholas Galafano, 56, along with his sons Yaseen Galafano, 22, and Musa Galafano, 25, of 248th Street were among eight people charged in connection with a multi-state untaxed cigarette smuggling ring brought down following an extensive investigation, prosecutors said.
“This smuggling ring raked in millions of dollars at the expense of New Yorkers,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said. “Purchasing cheaper cigarettes from out of state and applying counterfeit tax stamps on them cheats both the state and city out of much-needed tax revenue. The defendants now face prison time as a result of their alleged greed.”
Members of the Cigarette Strike Force, a coalition of local and state law enforcement agents that work to snuff out untaxed cigarette smuggling in New York State, busted the operation. The cigarette smugglers in this case, Brown said, cheated the city and state out of more than $953,000 in uncollected cigarette tax revenue.
According to the charges, Nicholas Galafano purchased more than 37,000 cartons of cigarettes from a co-defendant, Nasi Jafri, 43, of Chantilly, Virginia. Jafri bought the untaxed cigarettes from big box stores in Virginia and Maryland, then drove them to New York and delivered them to Galafano, who then sold the cartons to father-and-son store owners in Brooklyn: Ahmad Abualrub, 61, and Hassan Abualrub, 18, of Brighton Beach.
Prosecutors said that Galafano and his partner in multiple business ventures — Beatrice Villafane, 46, of Hempstead, Long Island — then worked to launder the revenue they received from the sale of untaxed cigarettes. They deposited more than a million dollars in proceeds into bank accounts.
Through the investigation, the Cigarette Strike Force executed court-authorized search warrants at the New York defendants’ home on Sept. 24, recovering a total of 6,267 cartons of untaxed cigarettes and $2.3 million in illegal proceeds, including more than $200,000 in cash.
Inside the Galafanos’ Little Neck home, detectives found 49 cigarette cartons with either counterfeit New York tax stamps or Virginia tax stamps, or no tax stamps at all. They also found multiple documents, ledgers and receipts tracking cigarette orders, prices, deliveries and proceeds.
All of the defendants were charged with second-degree grand larceny, a cigarette and tobacco products tax law felony, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and fourth-degree conspiracy. They were all released without bail following arraignment and must reappear in Queens Criminal Court on Nov. 27.
If convicted, they each face between 8 and 30 years behind bars.