The owner of the Little Neck-based Korea Tribune was arrested Friday for allegedly extorting money from local businesses and threatening to publish false and damaging stories about the merchants if they did not comply, the Queens district attorney said.
Chang Wan Kim, 42, of 45-07 248th St., was arrested and could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on charges of attempted robbery and attempted grand larceny by extortion and coercion.
Kim allegedly demanded monthly payments from at least five local businesses ranging from $200 to $1,000 over a three-year period, Queens District Attorney Richard Browns office said.
According to the criminal complaint, Kim allegedly harassed the owners of a Flushing nightclub, a Bayside business, and members of the Korean College Association between October 1998 and 2000.
The Tribune, a free Korean language weekly newspaper distributed in restaurants and shops, is headquartered in an office at the intersection of 248th Street and Northern Boulevard in Little Neck.
The Korea Tribune could not be reached for comment as of press time Tuesday.
Lee Sae Jong, president of the Korean American Association of Greater New York, said Kims alleged threats have been a problem in the Korean community for about three years.
Ive had a lot of complaints to my organization about Kims supposed practices, Jong said.
Jong said Kim would approach everyone from social organizations, small businesses, and even city council candidate Terence Park to ask them to advertise in his paper.
If someone refused to advertise with the Korea Tribune, Jong said, Kim allegedly either threatened them or ran an ad without their consent and then demanded money.
No one answered the door of Kims Little Neck home Monday morning. The publisher lives only a few blocks away from his newspaper, located at the intersection of 248th Street and Northern Boulevard.
Brown said Kim allegedly threatened to publish false and injurious stories about the merchants in his newspaper if they failed to pay him. The district attorney said the publisher allegedly followed through on his intimidations on at least four occasions.
The criminal complaint alleges that Kim physically accosted one of his victims in November at a fund-raiser in Astoria and threatened to throw a chair at the victim.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2001 Community News Group
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