Business Owners Sentenced in Prince George’s County Extortion Conspiracy
Conspirators Paid an Undercover Agent $1,770,230 for More Than 17 Million Contraband Cigarettes
Greenbelt, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Amir Miljkovic, age 40, of Bowie, Maryland, owner of Prestige Auto Glass located in College Park, Maryland, today to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion under color of official right, arising from a scheme involving the transport and distribution of untaxed cigarettes. Judge Messitte also sentenced Chun Chen, aka Eddy Chen, age 36, of Bowie, Maryland today to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his participation in the conspiracy. Judge Messitte also entered orders that Miljkovic pay restitution and forfeit $230,580, including $183,799 which was seized from his home at his arrest; and that Chen pay restitution and forfeit $213,000, including $117,800 which was seized from his home at his arrest.
The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Special Agent in Charge Rick A. Raven of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
"The focus on cigarette smuggling is one of several initiatives that the IRS is partnering with local other federal agencies to combat," said IRS Special Agent in Charge Rick A. Raven. "The state revenue loss in taxes is substantial in these tough economic times."
According to their plea agreements, in June 2009, Miljkovic began discussing the transport and sale of untaxed cigarettes across state lines with a source and an undercover agent working with the FBI. Miljkovic stated that he had an associate, a Prince George’s County police officer named “Richard” who, using his official police authority, could protect shipments of contraband cigarettes and the proceeds and monies that were to be transacted. Shortly thereafter, Miljkovic introduced former Prince George’s County police officer Richard Delabrer to the source and undercover agent.
By July 2009, Delabrer and Miljkovic began purchasing contraband cigarettes from the undercover agent and reselling them to Chen and Chong Chin Kim. Chen owned a carry-out store in Maryland. Kim was a Prince George’s County police officer. Chen and Kim sold the contraband cigarettes to individuals in New York, where local taxes on cigarettes are more than $8 per pack. According to his plea agreement, Delabrer assured the undercover agent that he would be armed to protect against robberies, and was seen in possession of one or more guns during some of these transactions. Miljkovic accompanied Delabrer during these protection runs, and both were paid cash for their protection activities.
To obtain the contraband, Miljkovic and Delabrer traveled to Virginia to pick up a rented truck, which had been loaded with the cigarettes by the undercover agent, and drove the loads to a storage unit in Maryland obtained by Kim and others.
The conspirators conducted at least 33 illicit transactions with the undercover agent and the source involving the sale of contraband cigarettes. Miljkovic was involved in each transaction. The first cigarette transaction on July 23, 2009 involved a shipment of 14 master cases, each containing at least 12,000 cigarettes. The largest shipment, on November 6, 2009, involved 160 master cases. Altogether, Miljkovic, Chen, Delabrar and Kim paid the undercover agent $1,770,230 for 1,420 master cases of contraband cigarettes, for a total of more than 17 million contraband cigarettes.
Conspirators Richard Delabrer, age 46, of Laurel, Maryland and Chong Chin Kim, age 44, of Odenton, Maryland, pleaded guilty to their participation in the extortion conspiracy and are scheduled to be sentenced on July 23, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. and June 25, 2012 at 9:30 a.m., respectively.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI and IRS for their work in these investigations. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys James A. Crowell IV, A. David Copperthite and Sujit Raman, who prosecuted the cases.
Mr. Rosenstein, Mr. McFeely and Mr. Raven expressed their appreciation to Prince George's County Chief Mark Magaw for the assistance that he and his department provided.