By Phineas Rueckert
Competition between two bodegas reached a boiling point on the border of Queens and Brooklyn this past winter, federal prosecutors say.
Mamunar Khan, co-owner of the Deshi Bazaar in Ozone Park, could face up to 20 years in prison for arson, after he allegedly strode into a rival supermarket in East New York, lit an “unknown flammable material” on fire, and escaped in a Mercedes-Benz SUV in February, according to prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York.
Khan stands accused of “knowingly, intentionally and maliciously” destroying “by means of fire, a building and other real and personal property,” according to his indictment in federal court.
“As alleged in the indictment, Khan set fire to a supermarket while it was open for business, demonstrating total disregard for the safety of employees, customers and the firefighters who responded to the blaze,” Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.
“Attempting to burn down your competition is an extremely serious and violent crime and we and our law enforcement partners will ensure that such crimes are punished,” Donoghue continued.
Khan is the co-owner of Deshi Bazaar, located at 74-16 101st Ave. in Ozone Park. Video footage obtained by investigators allegedly shows Khan entering the Premium Supermarket in Brooklyn on February 3, 2019 and pushing a shopping cart filled with flammable materials down the aisles. After allegedly lighting the materials on fire, he fled the scene in a Mercedes-Benz SUV.
“These are false charges,” Khan told the Eagle over the phone. “I have nothing else to say.”
The fire spread throughout the building and caused structural damage, though no one was injured. One commenter, Sam Rahman, left a review on the Deshi Bazaar’s Google page lambasting Khan.
“He didn’t care for anyone else but him, there was little kids in there, any one of them couldve died,” Rahman wrote.
Khan left the country for Bangladesh the next day and was arrested upon his return in early May, prosecutors say. He had previously criticized Premium Supermarket for price gouging, witnesses told investigators.
If convicted, Khan faces a minimum of five years in prison and as many as 20.