Kings County [Brooklyn, NY] District Attorney Charles J. Hynes Announces The Takedown Of A Counterfeit Cigarette Operation And Seizure Of Nearly $5 Million In Counterfeit Cigarettes

From: Kings Country District Attorney Charles J. Hynes

012813hynes.jpg Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes with a carton of fake Marlboros. (Courtesy Brooklyn DA’s office)


Brooklyn, January 25, 2013 – Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced the arrest of Yin Haun Zhao, charged with running a counterfeit cigarette ring that netted millions of dollars and deprived the city and state of millions in tax revenue.

“As unhealthy as smoking is, smoking counterfeit and bootleg cigarettes is even worse, because there is no way of knowing what chemicals they contain,” said DA Hynes. “Selling this poison is also a drain on the state and city economy, because these cigarettes are entirely untaxed.”

From Zhao’s Borough Park warehouse, at 5623 Fort Hamilton Parkway, KCDA Detective Investigators seized approximately 600 cases of cigarettes, containing roughly 30,000 cartons and worth approximately $4.5 million. The city and state taxes on the seized cigarettes would have been $1.8 million. The cigarettes included counterfeit versions of popular brands, such as Marlboro and Camel, as well as less well-known Chinese cigarettes.

Zhao is charged with a Class-D Felony related to the possession, with intent to sell, of more than $30,000 cigarettes without the proper tax stamps, Trademark Counterfeiting in the Second Degree, and Attempt to Evade or Defeat Cigarette and Tobacco Products Tax. He faces up to seven years in prison, if convicted.

This arrest is the result of a six month undercover investigation conducted the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Money Laundering and Revenue Crimes Bureau and the Special Investigations Unit, with the assistance of Allegiance Protection Group Inc. and the Altria Group, both working on behalf of the Phillip Morris Tobacco Company.

The case was investigated by Supervising Rackets Investigator Sandra Tillman and Detective Third Grade Chris Perkins. George Terra is Assistant Chief Investigator. Joseph Ponzi is Chief Rackets Investigator.

The case is being tried by Greg Mitchell, Bureau Chief in the Money Laundering and Revenue Crimes Bureau and Steven Kramer, Counsel to the Money Laundering and Revenue Crimes Bureau. Michael Vecchione is Chief of the Rackets Division.



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