BENSONHURST — A foul plan went up in smoke.
On Dec. 10, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance announced that it had seized over 3,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes following a routine inspection at two Bensonhurst stores, resulting in the arrest of the two owners, who were charged with felonies.
Tax department 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, 6602 Bay Pkwy. and A&B Food Corp, 7402 17th Ave.
A&B Food Corp. had over 96 cartons of illicit cigarettes at the store, while S&O Star Deli Corp had over 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.