Three northeast Queens men were indicted by a grand jury following a “complex surveillance investigation” which uncovered a warehouse break-in scheme in Suffolk County last summer, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Christopher Tsang, 44, of College Point; Joe Lin, 40, of Flushing; and Chung Wei Wang, 38, of Oakland Gardens, were arraigned last week before Queens Supreme Court Justice Michael Yavinsky on a 10-count indictment charging them with multiple burglary and robbery crimes for a scheme Katz said reminded her of an “Oceans Eleven” plot.
According to the charges, members of the NYPD and Queens DA’s office used surveillance, court-authorized wiretaps and other investigative techniques to uncover the plot that was planned in Queens during a two-week period in early July. The planning culminated with the defendants meeting in Long Island City for a final rehearsal before setting off for West Babylon to execute their robbery plan in mid-July.
As outlined in the charges, the trio allegedly met around midnight on July 2 at a reputed gambling parlor on Cherry Avenue in Flushing. Katz said the group met again with several other unidentified co-conspirators in a movie theater parking lot in College Point around 11 p.m. on July 7. Tsang allegedly had the group gather around schematics he unrolled and referred to as he gave directions to members of the plot.
According to the charges, throughout the two-week period in July, defendants, sometimes just a few and other times the entire group of as many as 15, met at various locations to flesh out their plot. On July 8, Tsang and Lin drove to the West Babylon warehouse on Route 109, met with others and watched their target from a nearby supermarket on the same street. They also called a nearby auto body shop to check their hours of operation on their planned robbery date.
On July 9, the group met again in the movie parking lot in College Point and reviewed photographs of the warehouse.
Katz said Tsang, Wang and another man met on July 11 on 30th Street in Long Island City. The men wore dark clothing, masks and gloves and covered all identifiable markings on several vehicles.
At around 7 a.m. on July 18, several of the defendants allegedly barged into the West Babylon warehouse wearing masks and NYPD-branded tactical clothing allegedly brandishing what appeared to be firearms, according to the charges. They encountered two workers as they were unloading boxes and they were restrained with zip ties and had hoods placed over their heads. Two delivery workers at the scene were also restrained with zip ties. As alleged, the defendants then removed approximately 100 boxes from the warehouse, placed them into unmarked trucks and vans and left the scene.
On Tuesday, Nov. 23, police executed court-authorized search warrants for the homes of Tsang, Wang and Lin. During the search of Tsang’s 124th Street home in College Point, police allegedly recovered an imitation pistol, an inoperable firearm and nearly $8,500 in cash.
Katz said during the search of Lin’s home on 163rd Street in Flushing, police seized up to 100 pounds of marijuana and roughly $50,000in cash. When the NYPD searched Wang’s 232nd Street home in Flushing, an unloaded .22 firearm, eight Tasers, zip ties, and various police-like paraphernalia. Including hats, shirts, badges and vests, along with $120,000 in cash were recovered.
“These defendants are accused of orchestrating an elaborate ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ style ripoff of a warehouse and raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Katz said. “The alleged ring-leaders arrested met at illegal gambling parlors, a movie theater parking lot and other locations in Queens to plan the logistics of their heist. As alleged, they used phony NYPD tactical gear, waved weapons and restrained warehouse workers before taking more than a hundred boxes of merchandise from a Suffolk County warehouse. The plot twist here — the heist flopped and the accused are facing prison time if convicted.”
Justice Yavinsky set the defendant’s return date for Jan. 10. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison.