Feb. 5, 2024 By Bill Parry
FBI agents arrested an Astoria man and a Chinese national on Thursday, Feb. 1, for engaging in a violent armed robbery at an illegal Flushing gambling parlor in July that left one man shot in the abdomen, according to federal prosecutors.
Jamel Berry of Astoria and Zhong Wang of China were taken into custody and arraigned shortly after their arrest in Brooklyn federal court on an indictment charging them with conspiracy to commit robbery, weapons possession and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.
According to court documents, on the night of July 19, 2023, Berry and two other men who remain at large, burst into an illegal gambling joint on Avery Avenue in Flushing just after midnight. Minutes before the heist went down, Wang forced his way into the basement of the building near the northeast edge of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and cut the power to facilitate the “brazen armed robbery.”
Upon entering the gambling den, Berry and his accomplices bludgeoned one person with a metal pipe and displayed a firearm. Then Berry and his associates stole approximately $3,000 in cash, and then shot “an innocent man” in his stomach before fleeing the crime scene, according to the indictment. EMS transported the victim to New York-Presbyterian Queens Hospital for treatment.
Investigators discovered that video surveillance cameras nearby captured Berry, Wang and their unapprehended accomplices at a staging location just down the block from the illegal gambling parlor before walking towards the gambling den and later running from the location.
The indictment is not the first time Berry has been charged by the feds. In 2020, he was charged and found guilty of attempted criminal possession of a weapon.
U.S. Attorney Breon Price requested that Berry and Wang be held in pretrial detention noting that the defendants pose a significant risk of flight if released, Wang in particular because as a Chinese national, he poses an even greater flight risk “given his ties” to his home country and the fact that the United States does not have an extradition treaty with China, according to court documents.
Wang was ordered held in custody, while Berry was released to home detention.
Both defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, they both face a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison.