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Long IslandCrime

Queens DA: Trio arrested in untaxed cigarettes scheme

Two men and a woman — two of them from Long Island — have been charged with scheming to sell untaxed cigarettes, authorities said Thursday.

Queens prosecutors said Ben C. Chen, 41, and Qin F. Liu, 38, both of Syosset, and Qing D. Zheng, 53, of Manhattan, sold cigarettes bearing counterfeit tax stamps.

During a search of a Flushing building owned by Chen and Liu, police found 375 cartons of untaxed cigarettes and 3,540 bogus tax stamps, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

Other searches turned up roughly 400 additional cartons, the office said.

Prosecutors said that if sold, the seized cigarettes would have generated $47,397 in tax revenue.

The defendants were arraigned Wednesday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Peter Vallone. Each was charged with first-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, fifth-degree conspiracy and state tax law violations.

Chen was held on $100,000 bail, and Zheng and Liu were released on their own recognizance. Each faces up to 15 years in prison.

Attorneys for Liu, Chen and Zheng could not be reached.

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