News and Press Releases

New york woman sentenced to federal prison for selling contraband cigarettes in new jersey

January 6, 2010


CAMDEN, N.J. – A New York woman was sentenced today to nine months in federal prison and nine months in a halfway house for selling untaxed cigarettes through the Internet to restaurants and individuals in New Jersey, resulting in a $3.9 million revenue loss to the state, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Rita Roosa, 47, of Allegany, N.Y., pleaded guilty on July 7, 2009, to an Information charging her with one count each of conspiracy to traffic and trafficking in contraband cigarettes. Roosa entered her guilty plea before United States District Judge Joseph E. Irenas, who also imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court. Judge Irenas ordered the defendant’s immediate surrender.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Roosa admitted that from 2003 through September 2008, she owned and operated a contraband cigarette business, All-American Tobacco, from a Native American reservation located near her home in the Buffalo, N.Y., area. Roosa, who has never been a member of a Native American tribe, used the Native American status of the business to buy untaxed cigarettes. She then sold at least $4.9 million worth of untaxed cigarettes through the Internet to buyers in New Jersey, resulting in a $3.9 million tax revenue loss.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Irenas sentenced Roosa to three years of supervised release and ordered her to pay $3.9 million in restitution. The Court also granted the government’s motion for the forfeiture of four pieces of commercial real estate located in nearby states, which were recently appraised at $2.5 million, as partial satisfaction of the restitution.

Roosa is the seventh defendant to be sentenced in this matter. In addition to the term of incarceration, Roosa was sentenced to three years of supervised release. To date, the government has recovered just over $2.85 million of the $3.9 million loss from the defendants.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited inspectors of the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Thomas Boyle; special agents of the Internal Revenue Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff; special agents of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Matthew Horace; and special agents of the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, Division of Taxation, Office of Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charles Giblin, with the investigation leading to today’s sentence.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Chillemi of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care and Government Fraud Unit in Newark.


Defense counsel: Thomas J. Eoannou, Esq., Buffalo, N.Y.

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