June 13, 2019 By Christian Murray
An East Elmhurst man who runs a minimart in Sunnyside and three other convenience stores throughout the city was busted by police Tuesday for possessing more than $500,000 in bootlegged cigarettes.
Mohammed Khan, 44, of 78th Street in East Elmhurst, was charged with grand larceny and multiple tax crimes after police conducted a court-authorized raid Tuesday morning and seized nearly 22,000 packs of cigarettes from his home. The cigarettes seized, according to the District Attorney’s office, either failed to have a New York State tax stamp or had counterfeit stamps.
The police also recovered 52,000 counterfeit stamps yet to be affixed and $177,125 in cash throughout his home.
The police searched Khan’s four businesses, including Sunnyside Mini Mart, located at 41-08 48th St., where he is listed as the president. Police seized 16 cartons of cigarettes that had counterfeit tax stamps at his Sunnyside location. Police seized a total of 115 packets of cigarettes from his two Manhattan stores and Brooklyn store combined.
Khan had been the subject of a long-term investigation that led to the search of his home and businesses.
Police arrived at his 30-58 78th St. home early Tuesday and when no one answered they forced their way in. The NYPD found a child—no more than 2 years old—alone in the house. The police then left the house through the backdoor and found Khan in an adjacent house—also owned him—wearing only his underwear hiding behind a door.
He has been charged with second- and fourth-degree grand larceny, first degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, violation of tax law, endangering the welfare of a child and possession or transportation of untaxed cigarettes with the intent to sell. He was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court Aug. 6.
The police also arrested Mohammed Ahmed, of 32-34 78th St. in East Elmhurst, an alleged associate of Khan’s.
Police recovered 115 cartons of cigarettes from Ahmed’s home, with all 1,150 packs bearing counterfeit tax stamps.
“Selling untaxed cigarettes is a booming business for bootleggers, who cheat both New York State and the City out of much-needed revenue,” said Acting District Attorney John M. Ryan. “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.”