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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Thursday, February 16, 2006

RALEIGH - United States Attorney Frank D. Whitney announced that a federal grand jury has returned a true bill of indictment against AVEDIS DJEREDJIAN, a.k.a. Mike, 37, of Glendale, California. DJEREDJIAN has been charged in a thirteen-count indictment with one count of conspiracy with the intent to promote the trafficking of contraband cigarettes; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; and eleven counts of money laundering with funds derived from contraband cigarette trafficking.

The Indictment alleges that from January 2002, through June 2005, DJEREDJIAN, doing business as Star Tobacco, in Glendale California, conspired to buy more than 495,000 cartons of cigarettes from North Carolina and other low cigarette tax sources. These cigarettes were then shipped to DJEREDJIAN in California for retail sale. The indictment alleges that DJEREDJIAN had purchased only enough legitimate California tax stamps for 1,200 cartons and, therefore, California lost more than $4.25 million in cigarette taxes. It is also alleged that proceeds from the sale of contraband cigarettes were used to purchase more cigarettes in North Carolina and that DJEREDJIAN’s sole source of income derived from the sale of contraband cigarettes.

Investigation of the case was conducted by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service, and the California Bureau of Equalization. AUSA Robert E. Skiver is prosecuting the case for the United States.

An Indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A trial date has not yet been set.

 

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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