Flushing family arrested in alleged illegal hotel scheme

From left: DOB Commissioner Robert LiMandri and 42-03 Saull Street, Queens
From left: DOB Commissioner Robert LiMandri and 42-03 Saull Street, Queens

A Flushing, Queens family was arrested and charged with second-degree reckless endangerment after a yearlong investigation revealed they’d allegedly illegally converted their duplex into a 15-room hotel, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.

The “high-traffic” hotel, which catered to Asian tourists, was uncovered by detectives investigating reports of illegal cigarettes sold out of a house at 42-05 Saull Street, during which they noticed lots of people carrying luggage in and out of 42-03 Saull, next door.

A look at Chinese-language websites such as Chinatowninus.com revealed advertisements for the house as a hotel with double, triple and quadruple occupancy options.

Doubles ran for $60 per night, triples for $70 and quads for $90, with a premium charged for private bathrooms.

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Inspectors from the Department of buildings tried unsuccessfully to enter the home several times over the past year, but were repeatedly denied access. Once they finally got inside, they uncovered a lack of exists and no sprinklers, fire alarms or exit signs.

In the process, Xioshan He, the 34-year-old son of property owners Quimin He and his wife Chun Y Tu, was charged with second-degree obstruction of government for interfering with his parents’ arrest.

“Illegal conversions can kill — and any property owner who puts lives in danger in order to line their own pockets must be held accountable,” Department of Buildings Comissioner Robert LiMandri said in a statement.

The family may face a year in jail if convicted. [Village Voice]Julie Strickland