By Rachel Vick
The state’s attorney general, the mayor and a slew of law enforcement officials announced Thursday that they had busted a massive thievery ring, led by a Queens-based pawn shop owner, that stole and resold over $1 million worth of stolen goods over the course of four years.
A total of 41 people have been charged in the crime ring responsible for reselling the stolen items on eBay. Law enforcement officials seized more than $3.8 million worth of stolen retail items from the alleged boss and Fresh Meadows resident Roni Rubinov. They also allegedly recovered more than 550 stolen gift cards and more than $300,000 in cash.
“Today’s takedown of this massive retail theft operation is part of our continued efforts to combat crime and restore an environment where all New Yorkers feel secure,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “These individuals stole millions of dollars in luxury goods and cleared the shelves of the drug stores in the communities we live and resold these goods for great profit.“
Designer clothing, handbags, belts, and shoes; cosmetics; over the counter medications; miscellaneous drug store items; tools and electronics; coffee; and over 550 gift cards from approximately 60 different retailers, including Amazon, Home Depot, Walgreens, Visa, Apple iTunes, Modell’s, Lowe’s, Kmart, American Express, and Pottery Barn, were all targeted by the ring and allegedly resold online.
After being lifted, the goods were allegedly moved to Rubinov’s New Liberty Loans Pawn Shop in Queens and Romanov Gold Buyers Inc. in Manhattan before being brought to his Fresh Meadows home and warehouse for inventory.
Items were then sold on the Treasure-Deals-USA eBay store — which clocked more than $1,373,728 in sales dating back to 2017.
He reinvested approximately 60 percent of the eBay proceeds back into the business and as payment for his employees. Funds were allegedly washed through PayPal and a bank account, law enforcement said.
Rubinov also allegedly procured New York City Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and benefits from the people taking items from shops in exchange for cash — after directing his colleagues to check their account balances — and used them for his own family.
He was charged with enterprise corruption, money laundering in the first degree, criminal use of a public benefit card in the first and second degree and welfare fraud in the third degree.
Among the numerous defendants are at least six Queens residents, including Forest HIlls resident Yuriy Khodzhandiyev, Akasya Yasaroglu, Ramdass Ramkissoon and Ana Balaceanu.
“Public safety is the prerequisite to prosperity, and so we want to be clear that we will investigate, arrest, and prosecute criminals when they break the law,” said Mayor Eric Adams during Thursday’s announcement.
“This wasn’t just shoplifting, but people going into stores and clearing off shelves as part of an organized crime ring,” he added. “This massive retail-theft scheme affected every level of our economy, from department stores to big chains to independent businesses — all of whom were already impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”