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Rockland County DA Joint Investigation into Smoke Shops Nets Four Felony Arrests

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas E. Walsh II announced on Friday the charges against four individuals and five corporations following a year-long investigation into smoke shops operating in Rockland County.

On March 4, 2024, search warrants were executed at seven locations by the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, the New York Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations, New York State agencies, and local police departments. These locations included two smoke shops in Clarkstown, two in Orangetown, one in Suffern, and additional warrants at a business and a private residence in Clarkstown. During the searches, authorities seized over $400,000 and 170 pounds of cannabis from the five Zava stores, none of which were licensed to sell cannabis in New York.

The individuals charged are:

– Ibrahim Alfalahi, 36, of Nanuet, NY, with one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree (D Felony) and five counts of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second Degree (C Felony).

– Abdo Alquhshi, 44, of Nyack, NY, with one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree (D Felony).

– Sadek Alfalahi, 29, of Nanuet, NY, with one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree (D Felony).

– Fateh Ahmed Alhajjaji, 36, of Nanuet, NY, with one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Third Degree (D Felony).

The corporations charged are:

– Zava Lafayette Convenience Corp., Suffern, NY, with one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second Degree (C Felony).

– Zava Candy Inc., Nanuet, NY, with one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second Degree (C Felony).

– Zava Flow Inc., Nanuet, NY, with one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second Degree (C Felony).

– Zava Central Convenience Corp., Pearl River, NY, with one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second Degree (C Felony).

– Zava Smoke, Inc., Pearl River, NY, with one count of Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second Degree (C Felony).

District Attorney Tom Walsh commented, “Today’s arrests result from search warrants executed at seven locations in connection with Rockland County smoke shops following a year-long investigation led by my Office. The investigation revealed tax irregularities with sales at these smoke shops. I commend the dedication and professionalism of all the agencies involved in this investigation.”

HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo stated, “Today’s charges highlight the increased prevalence of illegal, unregulated smoke shops being opened throughout our state. While marijuana use has been legalized in New York, businesses must adhere to tax restrictions and requirements – a fact these four defendants allegedly ignored. HSI New York remains committed to standing alongside law enforcement partners to ensure the safety and vitality of our community.”

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Acting Commissioner Amanda Hiller added, “I commend the Tax Department’s Criminal Investigations Division for their work in shutting down these illegal smoke shops. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to uncover tax evasion and ensure that businesses adhere to the law.”

The agencies involved in the investigation include the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, New York State Tax and Finance, New York State Office of Cannabis Management, New York State Police, Clarkstown Police Department, Orangetown Police Department, and the Suffern Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Dugandzic and Assistant District Attorney Katherine Crispi.

It should be noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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