A Little Neck man has agreed to give the government over $1.3 million in cash after pleading guilty to grand larceny after selling thousands of cartons of untaxed cigarettes throughout New York City, District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on Wednesday.
Nicholas Galafano, 58, was sentenced on Wednesday to five years’ probation in addition to the forfeiture of the cash seized by the authorities during his arrest, according to the DA.
His co-defendant, Beatriz Villafane, of Hempstead, Long Island, also pleaded guilty to grand larceny and was sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge and the forfeiture of profits made during the scheme.
Authorities, moving on a court-authorized search warrant, searched Galafano’s home in September 2018, where they found over 6,200 cartons of untaxed cigarettes, with fraudulent New York tax stamps or no stamps at all, and over $200,000 in cash, Katz said. Police also found document, ledgers and receipts for cigarette orders, pricing, deliveries and profits.
A search of Villafane’s home led to the discovery of over 3,500 cartons of untaxed cigarettes, nearly 100,000 counterfeit New York tax stamps, tools used to remove and add tax stamps, counting machines and over $200,000 in cash, according to the DA.
A third person involved in the scheme, Ahmed Abualrub, pleaded guilty to lesser charges and agreed to hand over $250,000 in profits, according to Katz.
“This defendant and others made a concerted effort to enrich themselves at the expense of the public. Every pack of cigarettes Galafano sold, diverted tax dollars from the public making every taxpayer a victim,” Katz said of the sentencing. “Today our city and state budgets are running on empty thanks to a deadly health crisis. The forfeited funds from this defendant and others will help fund public programs going forward.”