Eight charged after NYC Sheriff’s office raids two more COVIDiot parties in Manhattan and Queens

What pandemic? Patrons gathered in Corona, Queens (shown) and SoHo on Feb. 27-28 to smoke, drink and dance without wearing masks or practicing social distancing at clubs raided by the Sheriff's office.
Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff's Office

The Sheriff’s office was busy again this weekend cracking down on illegal clubs in Manhattan and Queens that allowed scores of patrons to party in violation of COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the NYC Sheriff’s office, the Manhattan sting took place in SoHo at about 2:05 a.m. on Feb. 28, when deputies responded to complaints of an illegal party at 1 Harrison St. 

While checking out the location, authorities said, the deputies observed two men — Arben Artani, 32, of East Elmhurst, Queens, and Shkelzen Dreshaj, 27, of Yorktown Heights — allegedly checking IDs of guests entering the location.

Law enforcement sources said the deputies then moved in and discovered more than 200 people inside the establishment having a good time without caring about the risk of COVID-19. 

The NYC Sheriff’s office observed patrons crammed into the location while dancing, smoking hookah and drinking — all without wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

Patrons at the SoHo party.Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office
Patrons at the SoHo Party.Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office
The Harrison Street location in SoHo.Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office

Both Artnai and Dreshaj were charged after the deputies shut the party down. A third individual — David Howard, 31, of Manhattan, who identified himself as an individual who rented out the establishment — was also booked in connection with the ring.

The three men face charges of violating the emergency measures and violating executive orders. Howard was also charged with unlicensed sale and warehousing of alcohol. Both he and Dreshaj face $15,000 fines for their roles in the operation.

The Queens operation happened in Corona at about 3:45 a.m. on Feb. 28, when deputies visited an illegal bar set up at 45-18 104th St.

According to the NYC Sheriff’s office, the deputies had previously observed a large group of people leaving the second floor of the location. It’s believed they were attending a party at the location which had been advertised on social media.

When they went in, authorities said, the deputies found nearly 150 people inside of the illegal club. Law enforcement agents said the patrons drank, smoked hookah and danced without social distancing or wearing masks.

Additionally, the Sheriff’s office noted, the location had several illegally blocked points of egress, jeopardizing the patrons’ safety.

Hookah devices found during the Corona raid.Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office
Patrons at the Corona, Queens party.Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office
The NYC Sheriff’s office outside the Corona, Queens location.Photo courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office

The Sheriff’s office said it apprehended Enrique Perra, 23, of Long Island, whom they said acted as a security guard at the location. 

The two alleged promoters of the party — Ricardo Rodriguez, 32, and Jairo Lopez, 29, both of East Elmhurst, Queens — were also charged along with two alleged DJs at the location: Raymond Rivera, 32, of Brooklyn and JanCarlos Rodriguez, 26, of Kissimmee, Florida.

Each individual was variously charged with violating existing COVID-19 emergency orders and failing to protect public safety. Rodriguez and Lopez also face a $15,000 fine for violating city health and safety codes.

More from around NYC