An East Elmhurst man’s alleged scheme to sell untaxed cigarettes out of stores he owns across the city went up in smoke this week.
Mohammed Khan, 44, of 78th Street wound up in handcuffs on June 11 on charges that he smuggled into Queens thousands of packs of untaxed cigarettes from out of state for resale. In searching his home, cops recovered 21,570 cigarette packs — the majority of which lacked New York State tax stamps. They also seized from the residence $177,125 in cash hidden throughout the house.
Additional untaxed cigarette packs were also recovered from four businesses that Khan owns and operates that were also raided on June 11: the Sunnyside Minimart at 41-01 48th St. in Sunnyside; the Village Smoke Shop at 111 First Ave. in Manhattan; the Second Avenue Convenience Store at 82 Second Ave. in Manhattan; and Flatbush Convenience at 377 Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn.
According to prosecutors, Khan was the subject of a long-term investigation into untaxed cigarette sales that began last September.
In executing a court-authorized warrant at Khan’s home on June 11, officers knocked on the front door at the same time that his wife approached the front door and knocked.
When there was no answer, police forced open the door and found inside, all alone, the couple’s two-year-old child.
Prosecutors said the officers exited from the back door of the location and located Khan in a nearby second residence that he owned, finding him barefoot and wearing only his underwear.
In a second case, cops busted one of Khan’s associates — Mohammed Ahmed, 37, also of 78th Street in East Elmhurst — on June 11. During a search of his residence, they found 115 cartons of cigarettes containing 1,150 cigarette packs, each of which bore counterfeit tax stamps.
Acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan stated that the alleged actions of Khan and Ahmed deprived New York City and State out of more than $500,000 in tax revenue.
“Selling untaxed cigarettes is a booming business for bootleggers who cheat both New York State and the City out of much-needed revenue,” Ryan said in a June 13 statement. “The main defendant in this case allegedly padded his pockets with money. Both defendants now face prison time as a result of their alleged greed.”
Khan faces charges of second- and fourth-degree grand larceny, criminal possession of a forged instrument, violation of cigarette tax law and tobacco products tax law, endangering the welfare of a child and possession or transportation of untaxed cigarettes with the intent to sell.
Ahmed was similarly charged with first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, third-degree grand larceny, and violation of cigarette tax and tobacco tax law.
Both suspects were released without bail but ordered to return to court on Aug. 6.