From: New York Daily News
The ring allegedly sold 20,000 untaxed smokes a week in New York City. Since Ramadan’s bust, the Pennsylvania-based wholesale supplier has filed for bankruptcy.
By Greg B. SmithAnthony DelMundo/New York Daily News
Samir Ramadan was arrested for allegedly running a big cigarette smuggling ring with potential ties to Hamas.
An accused ringleader of a multimillion-dollar cigarette smuggling ring police claim has possible ties to terrorist groups was held Tuesday on $15 million bail.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Michael Gary set the hefty bail for Samir Ramadan, 40, the so-called “underboss” of a ring that prosecutors say in the last year sold $50 million worth of untaxed cigarettes to bodegas across New York City.
Craig Warga/New York Daily News
Suspects in a cigarette smuggling ring are led through the hallways at Brooklyn Supreme Court Thursday, May 16.
Prosecutors with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office say they can’t account for some $14 million of the group’s profits, and the NYPD said they’re investigating whether some was funneled to Middle Eastern terror groups such as Hamas.
Ramadan’s $15 million bail — which his attorney said he’d be unable to post — is more than the $7 million bail set for gangster John “Junior” Gotti but not as bad as $100 million bond posted by hedge-fund felon Raj “The Hedge Hog” Rajaratnam.
New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly (front L) and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman (C) address the media at a news conference announcing an organized crime task force take down of an unstamped cigarette trafficking ring in New York.
The bail hearing for Ramadan’s brother, Basel, 42, the alleged “boss” of the group, was postponed.
In court, Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Sennett didn’t mention any terrorist group but noted Ramadan was secretly recorded discussing “the moving of bulk cash back across to the Middle East.”
Anthony DelMundo/New York Daily News
Samir Ramadan was walked out of the 72nd Precinct located at 830 4th Avenue in Brooklyn on Thursday, May 23.
“We are still looking for it,” Sennett said, in arguing that Ramadan should be denied bail.
Ramadan’s attorney, Daniel Bibb, scoffed at the Middle East ties, insisting that Samir’s phone calls overseas were to his sickly grandmother in the West Bank of Israel.
Brothers Basel, left, and Samir Ramadan, the reputed ringleaders of a smuggling ring that made a fortune selling more than a million cartons of untaxed cigarettes in New York.
“An ailing grandmother is certainly not able to hide someone in the West Bank,” Bibb said.
Since the ring was busted May 15, Cooper Booth Wholesale Co., the Pennsylvania-based wholesaler that sold the Ramadans tens of thousands of cigarettes, has filed for bankruptcy.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has moved to seize a $7.2 million from a Cooper-Booth bank account. In court filings, the company president, Barry Margolin, called the firm “victims of unfortunate circumstances.”
The Ramadans were among 16 people arrested last month for smuggling tax-free cigarettes from Maryland to New York City.