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Chicago Man Sentenced To 38 Months In Federal Prison For Trafficking Contraband Cigarettes

February 17, 2011

Springfield, Ill. – A Chicago area man, Tawfiq A. Nakhleh, 56, of Oak Lawn, has been ordered to serve 38 months in federal prison for trafficking contraband cigarettes. U.S. District Judge Richard Mills sentenced Nakhleh yesterday to the prison term and ordered the defendant to pay a fine of $10,000, money previously posted by the defendant as bond, prior to his revocation of release last month.

On May 28, 2010, Nakhleh entered an open plea of guilty to possession and transportation of 922 cartons of cigarettes, more than 180,000 cigarettes, which he had purchased in Missouri and intended to sell in Chicago. The court found that Nakhleh would have avoided paying $45,823 in Illinois’ cigarette tax. Illinois State Police stopped Nakhleh on Interstate 55, in Montgomery County, for speeding on Dec. 13, 2009, and recovered the cigarettes.

Nakhleh was arrested in April 2010 and released on $10,000 bond. During a hearing on Jan. 25, 2011, U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron G. Cudmore revoked Nakhleh’s pretrial release after finding probable cause that Nakhleh had committed a federal felony while on release. According to court documents petitioning the court to revoke Nakhleh’s release, the Chicago Police Department arrested Nakhleh on Nov. 9, 2010, after he allegedly engaged in the selling of loose cigarettes from his business, Sky Foods, in Chicago, without a business license to sell tobacco products.

Following the sentencing hearing, Nakhleh was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

The charges were investigated by the Illinois State Police; the Illinois Attorney General’s Office; Illinois Department of Revenue, Bureau of Criminal Investigation; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, in cooperation with the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory M. Gilmore.

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