When competition heated up, an Ozone Park supermarket owner decided to have a fire sale — by setting his rival’s business ablaze, federal prosecutors said on May 31.
A federal grand jury indicted Mamunar Khan, 59, co-owner of the Deshi Bazaar at 74-16 101st Ave., for allegedly torching on Feb. 3 the Premium Supermarket, located three blocks away in Brooklyn at 1196 Liberty Ave.
“As alleged in the indictment, Khan set fire to a supermarket while it was open for business, demonstrating total disregard for the safety of employees, customers and the firefighters who responded to the blaze,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said on Friday. “Attempting to burn down your competition is an extremely serious and violent crime and we and our law enforcement partners will ensure that such crimes are punished.”
According to the indictment, Khan was caught on camera inside the Premium Supermarket on Feb. 3 pushing a cart filled with an unknown flammable material down an aisle. While wearing blue latex gloves, he allegedly ignited the material with a lighter, then fled the store as the flames spread.
A camera outside the shop filmed Khan allegedly driving away from the shop inside a Mercedes-Benz SUV, authorities said.
Numerous Fire Department units responded to put out the fire, which caused substantial damage to the supermarket and its structure. No major injuries or deaths were reported.
During an investigation, federal prosecutors said, law enforcement agents questioned a witness who told them that Khan had allegedly previously complained about Premium Supermarket, claiming that their lower prices were hurting business as Deshi Bazaar.
A day after detectives questioned him, authorities said, Khan fled the country and traveled to Bangladesh. He returned to the U.S. three months later, and was taken into federal custody on May 6.
“The use of fire as a weapon to injure and intimidate is a callous crime, one that senselessly puts the lives of New Yorkers and FDNY members in danger,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. “Thanks to our Fire Marshals, NYPD Detectives, ATF agents, and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents who brought to justice an alleged arsonist who sought to avoid responsibility for this crime.”
Khan faces between five and 20 years in federal prison if convicted.