Bensonhurst delis busted for allegedly selling contraband cigarettes
Their plan went up in smoke.
The state’s Department of Taxation and Finance seized more than 3,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes at two Bensonhurst stores on Dec. 10 , following in a routine inspection. The respective owners were arrested and charged with felonies.
Investigators found and seized 336.8 cartons of cigarettes with fake tax stamps from New York State, New York City, Connecticut, Georgia and Virginia at S&O Star Deli Corp. and A&B Food Corp.
A&B Food Corp. had more than 96 cartons of illicit cigarettes at the store, while S&O Star Deli Corp had more than 240 cartons of cigarettes with counterfeit and out-of-state tax stamps seized, according to the agency.
Fifty-nine-year-old Abul Islam, owner of A&B Food Corp, was charged with possession of a forged instrument, attempt to evade cigarette tax on 10,000 or more cigarettes, and possession for sale of counterfeit-stamped cigarettes.
The owner of S&O Star Deli Corp, 53-year-old Salah Aizah, was charged with multiple felonies, including possession of a forged instrument, possession for sale of 30,000 or more cigarettes and possession for sale of counterfeit-stamped cigarettes.
In addition to the criminal charges, Islam and Aizah each face fines of up to $600 per carton seized.
The department stated that fines would total more than $144,000 for Aizah and more than $57,600 for Islam.
“Business owners who evade the tax on cigarettes and tobacco products or other sales put honest merchants at a competitive disadvantage and deprive their communities of revenue used to fund vital services,” said New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt. “We’ll continue to conduct these inspections and work with our law enforcement partners to ensure a level playing field for all.”
The Kings County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the cases.