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Queens Chronicle

DA nabs alleged cigarette hawkers

Nearly 700 cartons and $132K in cash found tax-free smoke bust

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Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 11:48 am, Thu Dec 6, 2012.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown on Wednesday charged a mother and son with violating New York State tax laws after seizing about 677 cartons of untaxed Asian cigarettes and $132,000 in cash from a grocery store, garage and bank in Flushing.

Ying-Jian Lin, 48, and her son, Xiao Lin, 23, both of 132-21 Sanford Ave., were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on a criminal complaint charging them with various violations of the state’s Cigarette and Tobacco Products Tax law.

Brown said cigarette smuggling “cheats taxpayers who must dip into their pockets to pay higher taxes. And it cheats the government as well by fueling an underground economy which does not pay much-needed state and city taxes.”

The mother-son duo allegedly tried to shortchange the state and city out of $45,000 in tax revenue, the amount that would have been lost if the 677 confiscated cartons of smokes been sold. The Asian-brand cigarettes also lack the required surgeon general warnings about the dangers of smoking.

The DA’s office had been investigating the Lins and others for several weeks, alleging Xiao Lin took cartons of untaxed Asian cigarettes out of a garage at 134-24 Maple Ave. to a grocery store at 41-82 Main St., where Ying-Jian Lin sold the cancer sticks.

A search warrant on the Maple Avenue garage uncovered the 677 cartons, as well as $2,405 in cash and a safe deposit key, which yielded a further $129,970 in cash in a box at China Trust Bank in Flushing.

The duo, who could face up to four years in prison if convicted, were released on their own recognizance and ordered to return to court on Jan. 8, 2013.

Brown has made a push to find and prosecute individuals skirting tax obligations through his Crimes Against Revenue Unit. The unit has found 8.5 million untaxed cigarettes since its inception in April 2011.

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