New York Wholesaler Sentenced To Prison For Buying Infant Formula And Other Merchandise Stolen In Georgia
Defendant Purchased More than $7 Million in Stolen Goods
ATLANTA, GA - TONY TAVARES, 53, of Woodmere, New York, and “BROOKLYN TOBACCO WHOLESALERS, INC.,” of Brooklyn, New York, were sentenced today by United States District Judge Steve C. Jones on charges that TAVARES, doing business as BROOKLYN TOBACCO WHOLESALERS, INC., purchased more than $7 million worth of infant formula, razor blades, and other merchandise which was stolen in the Atlanta area.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “Grocery and pharmacy retailers in Atlanta lose millions of dollars annually to professional shoplifters who steal infant formula and other merchandise to try and re-sell them to corrupt merchants. This is why consumers here and around the nation see extra tags and security for so many retail items, especially health and beauty aids. We commend our federal and local law enforcement for targeting local fencing operations here, and for aggressively investigating these defendants who were located 1000 miles away.”
TAVARES was sentenced to 3 years, 1 month in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. TAVARES was ordered to pay $931,250 in restitution. TAVARES pleaded guilty to the charges on May 5, 2011.
BROOKLYN TOBACCO WHOLESALERS, INC. was sentenced to pay $6,712,500 in restitution, as well as a $50,000 fine, and given 5 years probation. BROOKLYN TOBACCO WHOLESALERS, INC. was convicted of these charges on October 25, 2011, after a bench trial.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: TONY TAVARES operated BROOKLYN TOBACCO WHOLESALERS, INC., located at 1981 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York. TAVARES regularly purchased stolen merchandise from two businesses located in Atlanta: “Primo Food Market” located at 533 Griffin Street, which was operated by Jose Tavarez and Eduardo Tavarez and “M & M Grocery” located at 911 Simpson Road, which was operated by Danny Fernandez. At both locations in Atlanta, employees purchased from professional shoplifters, known as “boosters,” stolen merchandise consisting primarily of infant formula and razors. At regular intervals the stolen merchandise was loaded into rental trucks and driven to Brooklyn, New York where TONY TAVARES would personally supervise the unloading of the stolen merchandise at BROOKLYN TOBACCO WHOLESALERS, INC. After the stolen merchandise was received at BROOKLYN TOBACCO WHOLESALERS, INC., any store labels, price labels, and security codes would be removed from the stolen merchandise using a cleaning solvent. Then, the stolen merchandise was sold to wholesale and retail businesses in New York and elsewhere.
Danny Fernandez, Jose Tavarez, Eduardo Tavarez, and others were indicted by a federal grand jury on October 26, 2006, on charges that they shipped stolen merchandise in interstate commerce knowing that it was stolen. On December 13, 2007, Fernandez was sentenced by Judge Orinda D. Evans to five years and five months in federal prison. On December 13, 2007, Eduardo Tavarez was sentenced by Judge Evans to three years and six months in federal prison. On October 21, 2010, Jose Tavarez was sentenced by Judge Evans to four years and three months in federal prison.
This case was investigated by Special Agents with the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General, and the United States Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, and detectives with the City of Atlanta Police Department, with the assistance of the Cobb County Police Department and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant United States Attorneys William L. McKinnon, Jr., and J. Elizabeth McBath prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact Sally Quillian Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.usdoj.gov/usao/gan.