Flushing two-family home busted as phony hotel: DA

District Attorney Richard Brown poses with cartons of illegal cigarettes confiscated by authorities. Photo courtesy Richard Brown
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Everyone knows smoking kills, but red-hot hotel rates can also be hazardous to one’s health, the borough’s top prosecutor says.

Authorities trying to snuff out the black-market cigarette trade in Flushing stumbled upon a two-family house that was allegedly turned into an illegal, 15-room hotel offering cut-rate deals to Asian tourists, the Queens district attorney said.

“While investigating allegations of illegal cigarettes being sold out of one location in Flushing, detectives assigned to my office noticed unusual activity at the house next door — numerous people entering and leaving the premises with suitcases,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the high-traffic house was being advertised as a hotel on Chinese language websites. I would like to commend my detectives for their sharp observations as numerous alleged building violations were discovered, making the premises dangerous to both occupants and, in case of an emergency, first responders.”

Detectives investigating illegal, untaxed cigarettes that were allegedly flowing out of a house on Saull Street in Flushing noticed that the two-family home next door had an unusual amount of visitors carrying luggage, Brown said.

Investigators found the residential house was allegedly advertised on a number of websites, including as a 15-room lodge with rooms ranging from $60 a night for one person to $90 a night for four guests, the DA said.

Qiumin He, 55; his wife Chun Y Tu, 56; and their son Xiaoshan He, 34, were arrested on charges of reckless endangerment, Brown said.

“Illegal conversions can kill — and any property owner who puts lives in danger in order to line their own pockets must be held accountable,” Brown said. “These charges send a clear message that our law enforcement partners are cracking down on the creation of illegal units, and there are serious consequences for putting the safety of New Yorkers at risk.”

The family’s neighbor, 50-year-old Qinghai Wei, was arrested on charges of violating the state’s cigarette and tobacco tax law, Brown said.

“Selling illegal and untaxed cigarettes is a highly profitable tax-free cash business for those involved in it, but it cheats taxpayers and it cheats the government out of much-needed state and city revenue,” the DA added. “And in this case, it is alleged, Asian cigarettes that are illegal to sell in the United States because they do not carry the surgeon general’s warning were also recovered.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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Reader Feedback

Anonymous from Bayside says:
Good! There are many more illegal conversions taking place by Asians in Flushing, Fresh meadows and Bayside. I think the NYPD And Dept of Housing should start cracking down on them. They are getting away with a lot at our tax payers expense!
Oct. 14, 2013, 10:54 am
Lou from Fresh Meadows says:
I agree even the Greeks and Italians do alot of the house conversions it is not a one race thing unless your just racist against asians.
Oct. 14, 2013, 11:53 am
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
The city does pretty much nothing in regards to these illegal conversions, they pretty much litter Queens, especially Jamaica, Flushing and Corona. Why even bother having a Department of Buildings if they really are not going to address the issue.
Oct. 14, 2013, 4:02 pm
susan from queens says:
Yes.....go after all of these illegal house- hotels!! They all need to be taken down....our properties should be going to actual families and native new yorkers....time to sweep up all of the crap that just immigrated/ illegally immigrated here!!
Oct. 14, 2013, 5:05 pm
Mary from Queens says:
If you can't afford this city please just move somewhere more affordable. Illegal conversions and knocking down one or two families for disgusting horribly designed multi family houses. This city looks so crappy not luxurious. Who would want to live in those gross buildings in the future but the houses that were knocked down are the ones that would bring in better people with better incomes. And what was accomplished? Nothing just more slum people will continue to house in those crappy buildings.
Oct. 15, 2013, 7:34 pm
lou from Bayside says:
221-77 Horace harding Expressway Oakland Gardens 11364. Zoned 2 family. Has converted basement to illegal 1br. Garage to illegal studio. Plus the 2 legal apartments. City of NY refuses to do nothing. Dept of bldgs wont do anything. This goes on all over the city!
Oct. 16, 2013, 2:39 pm
Citizen from USA says:
I agree with all the comments. 1 and 2 family legal homes,are being converted into rooming houses. Just refuse to open the door or claim everyone there is a relative. Need more inspectors to fine the owners when they refuse admittance.
Oct. 17, 2013, 7:49 pm
Mike from Bayside says:
These animals have destroyed the great neighborhoods of Whitestone, Bayside, North Flushing, Fresh Meadows. Now they're even trying to put up illegal churches. If the local authorities and politicians don't do anything, the natives will.
Oct. 23, 2013, 5:40 am
steve from auburndale says:
I just have one thing to say... Where has Flushing gone? I feel like I'm living in Hong Kong. Usually immigrant groups better an area, the Irish did, Italians, Greeks, etc... The Asians turn residential neighborhoods into businesses, with massage parlors every few blocks and their business districts have freaking signs everywhere. If the Asians come to America to better their lives why do they turn the areas into where they came from? Just take a look at what they did with NYC China town and Flushing, they turned in into a dirty filthy Asian city like Hong Kong! They are the filthiest people I've ever come across.
March 9, 2014, 1:16 pm

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