Three Sentenced For Contraband Cigarette Trafficking
The Defendants Had Previously Admitted To Trafficking Cigarettes From Virginia To Northern States
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA -- Four men who previously had pleaded guilty to trafficking in contraband cigarettes were sentenced yesterday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Previously, Vijay Patel, 52, of Spotsylvania, Va., Pulin Amin, 30, of Fredericksburg, Va., Divyeshkumar Desai, 23, of Fredericksburg, Va., and Amadou Diallo, 30, of Bronx, N.Y., pleaded guilty to charges related to a multi-million dollar contraband cigarette-smuggling conspiracy that operated out of C&J Citgo, a Fredericksburg gas station.
Yesterday in District Court, Patel was sentenced to serve 46 months in prison, Amin was sentenced to serve 22 months, Desai was sentenced to serve 9 months, and Diallo was sentenced to serve 30 months. Patel and Amin agreed to pay over $5,000,000 in restitution, and Desai and Diallo agreed to pay over $3,000,000 in restitution. Patel agreed to forfeit $625,000 as a result of this crime.
Federal prosecution was deferred on Mars and Roshni Inc., the corporate owner of C&J Citgo, which the group used to sell both taxed and untaxed cigarettes to Diallo and other cigarette smugglers from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
“Thanks to a very thorough investigation by federal and state agencies, Mr. Patel and his co-conspirators are no longer engaged in a lucrative business trafficking contraband cigarettes,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “Buying and selling untaxed cigarettes is a serious crime with significant implications for our economy. The United States Attorney’s Office will continue to vigorously prosecute those who illegally attempt to avoid paying taxes.”
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli stated, “The sentences handed down today reflect my office's commitment to identify, target, and dismantle contraband cigarette trafficking operations. These criminal enterprises create an illegal and unfair business advantage over legitimate local competitors who play by the rules.”
This case is the result of a joint State, Federal, local, year long investigation led by the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Maryland Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Division, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, and the Spotsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia, the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office and the Spotsylvania County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Ronald Huber and Special Assistant United States Attorneys Ramin Fatehi and Thomas Shaia prosecuted the case for the United States.