Comptroller Franchot’s FED Agents Seize $32,000 in Untaxed Cigars

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (April 6, 2018) - Emphasizing his commitment to combat tax cheats of all kinds, Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that his Field Enforcement Division agents and inspectors seized untaxed other tobacco products (OTP) in separate inspections at two stores in Prince George’s and Baltimore counties. In each case, the OTP was non-premium cigars. A total of 32,772 cigars were confiscated with a value of $32,722 and representing a potential tax loss to the state of $22,940.40. The inspections took place on April 4 and 5.

“Ensuring Maryland’s tax laws are enforced and respected is a top priority on mine. The Field Enforcement Division agents and inspectors are vigilant in catching those who try to cheat the system,” Comptroller Franchot said. “I’m very proud of the work my investigators do each and every day to catch criminals and safeguard citizens from unscrupulous businesses.”

Each store’s owner faces a criminal citation of willful possession, sale or offer to sell untaxed other tobacco products. They are:

  • Aruna Sharma, 63, of Laurel, owner of Cherry Lane Exxon, 14701 Baltimore Ave., Laurel, MD 20707, Prince George’s County; 7,317 sticks of OTP seized with a retail value of $7,317 and representing a tax loss of $5,121.90.
  • Baljit Singh, 36, of Rosedale, owner of 6-Eleven Stop Convenience Store & Deli Inc., 100 Wise Ave., Dundalk, MD 21222, Baltimore County: 25,455 sticks of OTP seized with a retail value of $25,455 and representing a tax loss of $17,818.50.

In Maryland, a retailer can only lawfully possess and sell non-premium cigars purchased from a licensed Maryland wholesaler of OTP. Retailers must possess invoices for all OTP inventory indicating that the Maryland excise tax had been paid to the state by the wholesaler.

To date in fiscal year 2018, which started July, 1, 2017, FED agents have arrested and charged 125 individuals for various tobacco violations as a result of discovering 114 instances of violations of Maryland’s tobacco laws. These arrests have resulted in the seizure of 138,347 packs of contraband cigarettes and the seizure of 355,851 sticks of OTP. The seized items are valued at $1,256,044.13 and representing a tax loss to the state of $594,032.92.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Joseph Shapiro -  jshapiro@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-7305 (office); 443-871-2244 (mobile)

Alan Brody –  abrody@comp.state.md.us
                                        410-260-6346 (office); 443-924-1473 (mobile)