Even as the pandemic rages in New York City, barring mass gatherings, it did not stop at least three underground New Year's Eve parties from taking place in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, according to the NYC Sheriff's Office.
In Queens, more than 300 revelers were found attending an illicit party at a lounge Friday morning, according to the Sheriff's Office. Four people have now been issued summonses for organizing the illicit party.
Sheriff's deputies received word of a party at the Maspeth Bar Lounge, where they spotted more than 25 people entering an emergency side door in the side of the building at around 2 a.m., according to the Sheriff's Office.
At around 2:15 a.m., several deputies made their way inside the lounge and found more than 300 people inside, with some singing karaoke, dancing, or drinking alcohol. Some of the partygoers were seen not wearing masks or social distancing, according to NYC Sheriff Joe Fucito. Despite alcohol being served, the establishment did not have a liquor license or special permit from the State Liquor Authority, Fucito said.
The partygoers were escorted out soon after. Four people were charged for organizing the event, including the owner Man Phan, his wife He Bin Wang, the DJ Guowei Lin, and employee Fang Zou. Charges include violating the state and city's executive order that bars mass gatherings of ten or more people in New York State and failing to comply with health codes. Phan was also charged with blocking an entrance, illegally warehousing alcohol, and running an unlicensed bottle club. Phan now faces a $15,000 fine.
There was no phone number listed for the lounge.
An hour before that Queens party was busted up, deputy sheriffs broke up a party in SoHo, where they found 145 people "dancing, drinking alcohol, and smoking cigarettes" on the sixth floor of a penthouse apartment at 177 Prince Street, according to the Sheriff's Office. A phone number was not listed for the occupant.
Four people—Ivan Busheski, Ergius Ngjelo, Elvis Goxhufi, and Blerim Qyteza—were charged for organizing the event, which the Sheriff's Office said was "overcrowded." While all three were charged with violating city and state health violations, Busheski faced the most charges, including running an unlicensed bottle club and storing alcohol without a permit. If found guilty, they each face a $1,000 fine.
A few hours before partygoers were told to leave, sheriffs deputies broke up a party at Stars Hall in Brooklyn. There, deputies found 80 people hanging out, dancing and smoking hookah. Sheriffs were tipped off after receiving 311 complaints over no social distancing and loud noise associated with the party. Deputies charged Al Zabidi for violating city and state executive order barring parties.
Mass gatherings are still prohibited in New York State because of the COVID-19 pandemic that's now claimed more than 30,000 lives. The New York City Sheriff's Office has taken the lead in breaking up underground parties, often relying on tips and social media to alert them of secretive parties.