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Authorities discover more than 5,000 untaxed cigarettes in western Queens: DA

Queens DA Richard Brown (third from l.) stands with other members of the NYPD and Queens DA's office as he shows off some of the 5,000 untaxed cartons of cigarettes seized at an apartment in Woodside and a video store and garage in Jackson Heights. Photo courtesy Queens DA
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A Woodside man was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court last Thursday on counterfeiting and other charges after NYPD officers allegedly found 5,000 untaxed cartons of cigarettes and $96,000 in cash at his residence and at two locations in Jackson Heights, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

Abdus Shahed, 31, of 68th Street near Woodside Avenue, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, the DA said.

Investigators found Shahed’s alleged stash Nov. 16 during a search into the sale of untaxed and counterfeit cigarettes, the DA said. The investigators allegedly found the cartons and cash in both Shahed’s apartment, a garage at 35th Avenue and 71st Street in Jackson Heights and a video store at 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, the DA said.

Of the 5,000 cartons of cigarettes found, about 1,700 were counterfeit, the DA said.

“The counterfeit cigarettes recovered in the course of this investigation pose an even greater health risk than most because they have bypassed U.S. safety inspections and regulations,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. “They are of unknown origin and thought to possess extremely high levels of tar and nicotine, while being of incredibly poor and dangerous quality.”

Brown also said cigarette bootlegging diverts tax revenue from the city and state.

Shahed was arraigned before Judge John Zoll on trademark counterfeiting, criminal possession of a forged instrument and violations of New York state tax law, the DA said.

He was held on $25,000 bail and his next court date is Dec. 13, the DA said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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