THREE MEN CHARGED WITH ROBBING WAREHOUSE ON LONG ISLAND AFTER PLANNING AND REHEARSING HEIST IN QUEENS LOCATIONS
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced today that three defendants have been indicted by a Queens County grand jury following a complex surveillance investigation that uncovered a warehouse break-in scheme that was planned in Queens County over a two-week period in early July 2021. As alleged, four workers at the facility were restrained and property valued at several hundred thousand dollars was stolen from a West Babylon warehouse on July 18, 2021.
District Attorney Katz said, “These defendants are accused of orchestrating an elaborate ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ – style plot to rip off a warehouse and rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars. The alleged ring-leaders arrested yesterday met at illegal gambling parlors, a movie theater parking lot and other locations in Queens to plan the logistics of their heist. As alleged, they used phony NYPD tactical gear, waved weapons and restrained warehouse workers before taking more than a hundred boxes of merchandise from a Suffolk County warehouse. The plot twist here – the heist flopped and the accused are facing prison time if convicted.”
The District Attorney’s Office identified the defendants as Christopher Tsang, 44, of College Point, Joe Lin, 40, of Flushing, and Chung Wei Wang, 38, of Oakland Gardens, all in Queens. All three men were arraigned today before Queens Supreme Court Justice Michael Yavinsky on a 10-count indictment charging them with burglary in the second degree, four-counts of robbery in the first degree, four-counts of robbery in the second degree and conspiracy in the fourth degree. Justice Yavinsky set the defendants’ return date for January 10, 2022.
According to the charges, members of the New York City Police Department and Queens District Attorney’s Office used surveillance, Court-authorized wiretaps and other investigative techniques to uncover this plot that was being planned in Queens County starting around July 1st and culminated with the defendants meeting in Long Island City for a final rehearsal before setting out for West Babylon to execute their robbery plan in mid-July.
Continuing, as outlined in the charges, the three defendants allegedly met around midnight on July 2, 2021, at a reputed gambling parlor on Cherry Avenue in Flushing, Queens. Defendants Tsang and Wang arrived at the location in the same car after visiting several other gambling locations near Cherry Avenue and 41st Road on July 1st.
District Attorney Katz said, the group met again with several other unidentified co-conspirators in a movie theater parking lot in College Point, Queens, at 11 p.m. on July 7th. Defendant Tsang allegedly had the group gather around a physical scroll which he unrolled and referred to as he gave directions to members of the scheme.
According to the charges, throughout early July the defendants – sometimes just a few of them, and other times the entire group of as many as 15 – met at various locations to flesh out their plot. On July 8th, Tsang and Lin drove to the West Babylon warehouse on Route 109, met with others and watched their target from a nearby supermarket on the same street. They also called a nearby auto body shop to check their hours of operation on their planned robbery date. On July 9th, the group met again in a movie theater parking lot in College Point and reviewed photographs of the warehouse.
DA Katz said, Tsang, Wang and another man met on July 11th in Long Island City on 30th Street. The men – in dark clothing, masks and gloves – covered all identifiable markings on several vehicles.
On July 18th, according to the charges, around 7 a.m. several of the defendants allegedly barged into the West Babylon warehouse wearing masks and NYPD-branded tactical clothing. The men also are accused of brandishing what appeared to be firearms. They encountered two workers – both men – as they were unloading boxes in the warehouse. The two employees were restrained with zip ties and had hoods placed over their heads. Two delivery workers at the scene were also restrained with zip ties. As alleged, the defendants then removed approximately 100 boxes from the warehouse, placed them into the unmarked trucks and vans and left the scene.
Yesterday police executed Court-authorized search warrants for the homes of Tsang, Wang and Lin. During the search of Tsang’s 124th Street home in College Point police allegedly recovered an imitation pistol, an inoperable firearm and approximately $8,500 in cash.
The DA said during the search of defendant Lin’s home on 163rd Street in Flushing, police allegedly seized up to 100 pounds of marijuana and roughly $50,000 in cash. When police searched defendant Wang’s 232nd Street home in Flushing, an unloaded .22 firearm, eight Tasers (which resembled imitation pistols), zip ties, various police-like paraphernalia, including hats, shirts, badges and vests, along with approximately $120,000 in cash was recovered.
The joint investigation was conducted by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office with New York City Police Department. NYPD Detectives Michael Kelly led the investigation, under the supervision of Sergeants Christopher Maguire and Carlos Narvaez, Lieutenant Jason Forgione, and under the overall supervision of Captain Hansel Duran, of the Criminal Enterprise Investigations Unit. The investigation was also conducted by a team of QDA Detective Investigators, under the supervision of Sergeant. Joseph Falgiano and under the overall supervision of Acting Chief of Investigators Daniel O’Brien.
Assistant District Attorney Kathryn O’Neill, of the District Attorney’s Major Economic Crimes Bureau, is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Mary Lowenburg, Bureau Chief, Catherine Kane, Senior Deputy Bureau Chief, Jonathan Scharf, Deputy Bureau Chief and Hana Kim, Assistant Deputy Bureau Chief and under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney of Investigations Gerard Brave.
**Criminal complaints and indictments are accusations. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.