Video Store Shuttered for Selling Counterfeit Cigarettes, Officials Say
JACKSON HEIGHTS — A video and cellphone store was shuttered after undercover investigators found the shop was selling illegal cigarettes, according to court documents.
Mollika Video on 37th Road, near 74th Street, was closed by the NYPD on Saturday, its gates rolled down and marked with neon stickers.
The small store, which sells cellphones, imported CDs and Bollywood films, was also hawking bogus name-brand cigarettes without paying the hefty New York state tax, according to officials.
A private investigator said he bought a carton of Marlboro cigarettes on April 26, 2013 from Mollika that didn't have the New York state tax stamp on it, according to documents filed in Queens Supreme Court.
That investigator returned three more times last spring, on May 3, May 15 and May 23, to buy more untaxed Marlboro cartons.
He said the cartons had "false trademarks" and "interior foil that is not consistent with genuine Philip Morris USA products," the company that manufactures Marlboro cigarettes.
The store is owned by Ric Rac LLC, a company registered in Connecticut, but investigators could not track down the owner, according to the court papers.
The owner of the company, listed in public records as Abdus Shahed, did not respond to requests for comment.
New York is the most expensive place in the country to light up, with increases to the state and city's cigarette tax in 2010. The state charges a $4.35 tax on cartons, while the city adds $1.50 to the total.
The fees have led many to purchase counterfeit smokes.
A study released last week from the Tax Foundation, an independent group that researches tax policy, found that more than half of the cigarettes sold in New York were smuggled from other states or countries.