Fifth man arrested in connection to the deadly shooting of an Ozone Park business owner in 2017

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

Another man has been arrested in connection to the murder of an Ozone Park business owner in October 2017.

Brooklyn resident William Bryant, 54, was arrested on federal extortion and murder charges for his role in the murder of Hani Kasem, 64, who was shot inside his Ozone Park business in front of his son in retaliation over unpaid debts.

Three other men, Dwayne Ling, 55, of Brooklyn, Ppassim Elder (a.k.a. Sam or Big Sam), 38, of Staten Island and Frederick McCoy, 52, of Brooklyn, were brought up on similar charges in March 2018 for their roles in the murder and extortion. A fourth defendant, Mahdi Abdel-Rahim, 24, of Brooklyn, was also indicted for his role in the extortion.

Bryant was arraigned on Jan. 4, where he entered a plea of “not guilty” to the charges. He was detained and is due to return to court on Jan. 24.

According to charges, Bryant, Ling and McCoy allegedly went to Garden Valley Distributors on 99th Street near 101st Avenue on Oct. 23, 2017 seeking repayment of a debt from Kasem’s son, who was also his father’s business partner, who owed money to Elder.

Prosecutors said that Kasem’s son had taken a loan from Elder to help run the operations at Garden Valley Distributors. Elder demanded that Kasem’s son repay the loan in full in March 2017, but he was unable to do so.

Law enforcement sources noted that that Elder planned a “a campaign of intimidation against the son and his family,” employing the help of Abdel-Rahim, who on one occasion threw a rock through the window of Kasem and his son’s home. Elder then ordered Bryant, McCoy and Ling to go to Kasem’s business on Oct. 23.

While there, Bryant, McCo and Ling allegedly had firearms, pistol-whipped Kasem’s son and shot Kasem in the head before fleeing the location.

Police arrived at the scene and EMS rushed Kasem to Jamaica Hospital, where he died four days later. His son suffered minor injuries from the attack.

Elder was arrested in Cleveland, Ohio by federal agents on March 2, 2018. McCoy was arrested on March 7, 2018, and Ling had been arrested in January 2018 on local murder charges.

If convicted, Bryant faces 10 years to life in prison. Ling, Elder and McCoy face a maximum term of life imprisonment if convicted, and Abdel-Rahim faces up to 20 years in prison.

Updated at 4:40 p.m.