Nab Three Store Workers In Bad Cigarette Bust
An undercover officer with cartons of cigarettes – which were promoted as stolen and untaxed – were offered for sale at well below the $7-a-pack price now common for premium smokes sold within the city, according to law enforcement sources. The undercover found buyers at three locations: the Beach 44 Street Deli and Grocery, Shop N Save, at 13-26 Central Avenue and B&W Food, at 21-29 Mott Avenue, according to court records.
Police arrested Beach 44 Street Deli manager Douglas C. Rommeney, 23, who allegedly paid $30 cash for two cartons of “stolen” and unstamped Newport cigarettes. Police found two other cartons without tax stamps behind the counter and nearly 250 bootleg DVD’s, including “Ladder 49,” “Taxi,” and “Paparazzi,” which are all still in theaters.
At Shop N Save, police arrested Savlio Tavarez, 51, who allegedly directed the cashier to pay the undercover in exchange for stolen and unstamped smokes. Police also confiscated a box containing rifle and handgun ammunition.
Iban Perez, 31, was arrested at B&W Food, when he allegedly agreed to pay $20 for two cartons of cigarettes after he was told they were stolen in the Bronx and had no tax stamps.
The police action – aimed at cutting the demand for illegal cigarettes – comes on the heels of several recent convenience store burglaries where cigarettes were the specific target. Surprisingly, a source confirmed, Shop N Save was the site of one of the burglaries. Police said they had prior knowledge of illegal cigarette transactions at each of those locations, which established cause for the undercover action.
“If someone is selling you illegal cigarettes, it might be us,” warned Lieutenant Gary Messina. Police said the rising cost of cigarettes in the city has created a profitable cash market for illegal smokes similar to that of illegal drugs.
Rommeney, of 44 Grant Avenue, Brooklyn, is charged with trademark counterfeiting, criminal possession of stolen property, failure to disclose the origin of a recording and two counts of attempting to evade or defeat tax. Tavarez, of 86-25 Van Wyck Expressway, is charged with attempt to evade or defeat tax, attempted criminal possession of stolen property and unauthorized possession of ammunition. Perez, of 195 Beach 25 Street, is charged with criminal possession of stolen property.
The men were each arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on October 20 and are due back in court separately next month.