Annapolis, MD (June 22, 2007) – Agents of Comptroller Peter Franchot today confiscated nearly 3,500 packs of illegal cigarettes in two separate incidents, one involving an Anne Arundel business and another with a Washington County man. The Washington County bust marks the first arrest by Comptroller’s agents of an individual attempting to sell cigarettes over the Internet, a practice that has been illegal since 2005.
Agents discovered an online ad offering an unlimited quantity of cigarettes for purchase and set up a meeting to buy the cigarettes for $30 a carton with the suspected seller, James Kevin Morgan of Hagerstown, at a Frederick County mall parking. After the purchase was completed, agents arrested Morgan and seized 300 packs of untaxed cigarettes valued at more than $1,200.
Morgan faces four charges including selling cigarettes without a license, unlawful possession and transportation of untaxed cigarettes, and selling cigarettes ordered via a computer network. While the first two violations are misdemeanors, unlawful transportation and selling cigarettes bought online are both felonies that carry jail sentences up to 2 years.
“Those who think they can elude the law by selling cigarettes through the internet are sorely mistaken,” said Comptroller Franchot. “My agents will aggressively pursue those violators who are cheating the state out of tax revenue is it due.”
In a separate morning incident in Annapolis, Comptroller’s agents, working with the Maryland State Police, executed a search and seizure warrant at S & H Yoon, Inc., t/a Quick Save Mart, located at 524 Defense Highway where they confiscated a total of 2,933 packs of contraband cigarettes found on display.
This bust stemmed from a month-long undercover investigation during which agents purchased cigarettes from the unlicensed business. Quick Save Mart was cited both in 2005 and 2006 for the same violation and, on both occasions, agents seized a large quantity of cigarettes.
The business owner/operator, Sung Man Yoon of Millersville, faces three charges each of unlawfully selling cigarettes without the required license in addition to unlawfully doing business without the required trader’s license. The penalty for selling cigarettes without a license in Maryland is a $1,000 fine and/or 30 days in jail while businesses found operating without a trader’s license in Maryland are subject to a $300 fine and/or 30 days in jail. Both violations are misdemeanors.
Thus far in fiscal year 2007, the Comptroller’s Office has arrested 69 individuals for tobacco violations and seized 50,392 packs of cigarettes valued at $207,145.82.
CONTACT: Christine Duray, 410-260-6346 (office), 443-336-0215 (cell)