Comptroller’s Agents Confiscate Nearly $60K in Tobacco Products

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (April 23, 2018) - Comptroller Peter Franchot today announced that agents from his Field Enforcement Division (FED) assisted in a traffic stop and conducted investigations of three retail stores resulting in the confiscation of nearly $60,000 worth of tobacco products.

At 1 p.m. on April 18, FED agents assisted Master Trooper C.W. Miller stopped a 2017 Dodge Caravan registered in Missouri for a traffic violation on Interstate 81 just south of Exit 9 in Hagerstown. Agents seized 7,700 packs of unstamped cigarettes as well as the van. The seized cigarettes are valued at $49,655, representing a tax loss to state of $15,400.

The driver, Jesuel Mariano Paulino, 23, of High Point, NC, faces a felony charge of transporting unstamped cigarettes and a misdemeanor charge of possession of unstamped cigarettes. He was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

“I again applaud the round-the-clock efforts of the Maryland State Police and my FED officers for stopping cigarette smugglers who are trying to cheat Maryland and its citizens,” Comptroller Franchot said.

On April 17 and 18, FED agents and inspectors seized untaxed other tobacco products (OTP) valued at a total of more than $8,985 during separate inspections at stores in Prince George’s and Baltimore counties as well as Baltimore City.

Three men face a criminal citation of willful possession, sale or offer to sell untaxed tobacco products. They are:

  • Abdul Ahad Polash, 36, of District Heights, store clerk at DC Mini Mart LLC: 2319A Varnum Street in Mount Ranier; 8,002 sticks of untaxed OTP seized with a retail value of $8,002 and representing a tax loss of $5,601.40.
  • Rabindra Adhikari, 37, of Baltimore, owner of Yogi and Rabindra Inc.: 9117B Belair Road in Nottingham; 503 sticks of untaxed OTP seized with a retail value of $503 and a tax loss of $352.10.
  • Maxi Guzman, 38, of Baltimore, store manager at J&R Grocery & Deli Inc.: 1245 North Patterson Park Avenue in Baltimore; 480 sticks of untaxed OTP seized with a retail value of $480 and a tax loss of $336.

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 began on July, 1, 2017, FED Agents have arrested and charged 135 individuals for various tobacco violations as a result of discovering 126 instances of violations of Maryland’s tobacco laws. These arrests have resulted in the seizure of 156,817 packs of contraband cigarettes and the seizure of 429,546 sticks of OTP. The seized items are valued at $1,469,474.84 and represents a $688,888.63 tax loss to the State of Maryland.

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)