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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 22, 2019

Queens Man Convicted of Extortion Conspiracy and Threatening Physical Violence

11 Co-Defendants, Including Leader of Queens-Based Methamphetamine Distribution Organization, Previously Pleaded Guilty to Related Drug Distribution, Extortion and Illegal Gambling Charges

A federal jury in Brooklyn returned a guilty verdict yesterday against defendant Yuan Li for extortion conspiracy and threatening physical violence in furtherance of an extortion plan.  The verdict followed a four-day trial before United States District Judge Brian M. Cogan.  When sentenced, Li faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the verdict. 

“With this verdict, Li now faces punishment for his role in using fear, intimidation and threats of violence to extort a rival who dared to open a gambling parlor on his co-defendant’s turf,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  Mr. Donoghue expressed his grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and the New York City Police Department for their work on the case.

The government’s evidence at trial established that Li’s co-defendant, Anthony Pineda, operated numerous gambling parlors from which he distributed large amounts of methamphetamine, in Flushing, Queens.  In September 2017, the victim opened a gambling parlor in a building on College Point Boulevard that also housed one of Pineda’s gambling parlors.  On September 28, 2019, Li and Pineda demanded that the victim pay 10 percent of his parlor’s profits. When the victim refused, Pineda brandished a gun and Li reiterated his demand for payment, but to no avail. The next day, Li and Pineda again demanded that the victim provide a percentage of his parlor’s profits.  Fearing for his safety, the victim contacted the FBI.

The trial was part of a larger prosecution of 11 additional defendants who previously pleaded guilty.  On August 14, 2019, lead defendant Anthony Pineda pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and threatening physical violence in furtherance of an extortion plan.  On various dates between April and September 2019, co-defendants Joung Hwa Yun, Yunfeng Goa, Lu Zhai, Marco Rescino, Jing Wang, Ivan Kaleda and Guanghua Shen each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.   In June and July 2019, co-defendants Nan Zhang and Ting Li each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute five grams or more of methamphetamine.  On May 21, 2019, Si En Li pleaded guilty to operating an illegal gambling business. 

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime & Gangs Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Nadia E. Moore and Drew Rolle are in charge of the prosecution.

Defendant Convicted Yesterday:

YUAN LI (also known as “Mike”)     
Age: 38
Queens, New York

Defendants Awaiting Sentencing:

ANTHONY PINEDA
Age:  37
Queens, New York/San Francisco, California

YUNFENG GAO
Age:  34
Queens, New York

IVAN KALEDA
Age:  29
Queens, New York

SI EN LI
Age:  46
Brooklyn, New York

TING LI
Age:  31
Queens, New York

MARCO RESCINO
Age:  23
San Francisco, California

GUANGHUA SHEN
Age: 45

Queens, New York

JIN WANG
Age:  35
Queens, New York

JOUNG HWA YUN
Age:  41
Queens, New York

LU ZHAI
Age:  31
Queens, New York

NAN ZHANG
Age:  32

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-302 (MKB/BMC)

 

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Contact: 
John Marzulli United States Attorney’s Office (718) 254-6323
Updated November 22, 2019