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Boro men caught selling untaxed cigarettes: DA

ELMHURST — Two Elmhurst men have been arrested on charges of selling untaxed cigarettes and possessing more than 1,800 cartons of illegal, untaxed smokes, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Ming Gao, 33, and Hongan Lai, 61, were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court June 29-30 on charges of violating state Tax Law 1814 (Cigarette and Tobacco Products Tax), according to the DA, and Lai was also charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument and trademark counterfeiting.

Three search warrants were executed June 28-29 at a garage at 48-17 91st St. in Elmhurst and two automobiles, a Toyota Sienna registered to Lai and a Toyota Corolla registered to Gao, according to the DA.

In the garage, detectives allegedly recovered 1,343 cartons of untaxed cigarettes and 3,378 counterfeit Virginia tax stamps, the DA said. In the Sienna, detectives allegedly recovered 350.6 cartons of untaxed cigarettes and $32,245 in cash, while they allegedly recovered 120 cartons of untaxed cigarettes from the Corolla, according to the DA. Thirty more cartons of untaxed cigarettes and $445 were allegedly recovered from Gao’s person, and $93 in cash was seized from Lai, the DA said.

Many of the cartons were allegedly deemed to be counterfeit, the DA said, while others had been purchased and taxed in Virginia or had counterfeit Virginia stamps on them.

If convicted, Lai faces up to 15 years in prison and Gao faces up to seven years in prison. Both men were ordered released without bail and Lai was ordered to return to court July 28, while Gao was order to return to court Aug. 10.

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