Photo Courtesy of DA Brown’s Office
Queens DA Richard Brown stands amid more than $200,000 in cash and with just a fraction of the thousands of packs of untaxed cigarettes seized following the arrests of a eight individuals, who allegedly ran a complex cigarette smuggling ring that stretched from Virginia and Maryland into Queens, Brooklyn, and Long Island.
By Forum Staff
Eight defendants,including two fathers and their sons, have been arrested for their connection in an illegal cigarette ring in which over 150,000 counterfeit tax stamps and nearly 63,000packs of cigarettes were siezed.
The defendants are from Queens, Long Island, Brooklyn and Virginia and have been charged with grand larceny, conspiracy and other crimes for allegedly operating a complex multi-state cigarette smuggling ring.
District Attorney Brown said, “The defendants in this case are modern-day bootleggers… This smuggling ring raked in millions of dollars at the expense of New Yorkers. Purchasing cheaper cigarettes from out of state and applying counterfeit tax stamps on them cheats both the state and city out of much-needed tax revenue.” The defendants were identified as Nicholas Galafano, 56, of 248thSt. in LittleNeck, Queens, his sons YaseenGalafano, 22, and Musa Galafano, 25, also of 248thSt. in Little Neck, Queens; Ahmad Abualrub, 61, and his son Hassan Abualrub, 18, both of Brighton 3rd Street in Brooklyn; BeatriceVillafane, 46, of Meadowbrook Road in Hempstead, Long Island; NasirJafri, 43, of Giselle Court in Chantilly, Virginia; and Lisa Penda, 33, of Elk Street in Hempstead, Long Island.
All eight are charged in multiple criminal complaints with second-degree grand larceny, a cigarette and tobacco products tax law felony, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and fourth-degree conspiracy, and were before Queens Criminal Court Judge Toni Cimino, who released them on their own recognizance and ordering a return to court on November 27, 2018.
If convicted, the defendants face between 8 to 30 years in prison.
According to the criminal charges, a long-term investigation, which included court-authorized search warrants, grand jury subpoenas and other investigative tools, uncovered a multi-state conspiracy to smuggle cigarettes purchased in Virginia, transported to New York and then resold with counterfeit New York State tax stamps.
The defendants stole nearly $1 million in taxes that would have been collected if the cigarettes had been sold with the appropriate and legal tax stamps.
In 2018 alone,Jafri is alleged to have purchased more than 37,000 cartons of cigarettes from big box stores in Virginia and Maryland. The cigarettes were then allegedly driven into New York and sold to Nicholas Galafano.
Defendants Ahmad and Hassan Abualrub allegedly purchased the non-New York taxed cigarettes from Nicholas Galafano and transported them to Brooklyn where they sold the cigarettes to their customers in both Brooklyn and Queens. Continuing, the District Attorney added that, according to the charges, a review of official documents from the BridgehamptonNationalBank,WesternUnion and Switch Commerce, allegedlyshow that defendant Villafane ran multiple businesses with defendant Nicholas Galafano and the two allegedly laundered the cash generated from the sale of the untaxed cigarettes. Nearly one million dollar was found in these accounts. Court-authorized search warrants executed recovered approximately6,267 cartons of untaxed cigarettes and $2.3 million in illegal proceeds, including more than $200,000 in cash. Following a search of Galafano’s Little Neck, home police recovered multiple documents, ledgers and receipts for cigarette orders, prices, deliveries and proceeds.
Approximately 49 cartons of cigarettes with either counterfeit New York tax stamps or Virginia tax stamps or no stamps at all were also recovered. During a search of Villafane’s home – also known as the stash house – in Hempstead, police allegedly recovered more than 3500 cartons of untaxed cigarettes, nearly 100,000 counterfeit New York State tax stamps, paraphernalia used to remove and affix stamps, counting machines and more than $200,000 cash. In the apartment where the Abualrubs live in Brooklyn, police recovered during the court-authorized search more than 1,800 cartons of cigarettes with counterfeit New York State tax stamps along with cigarettes that had tax stamps from Connecticut and Virginia, 56,620 counterfeit NJ, NYS, CT and VA tax stamps and about $9,000 cash