North Las Vegas Convenience Store Owner Pleads Guilty to Purchasing "contraband" Cigarettes
Las Vegas, Nev. – The owner of a North Las Vegas convenience store pleaded guilty this morning to purchasing thousands of cigarettes that he had cause to believe were stolen and untaxed from an undercover local police officer for the purpose of re-selling them at his store, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Amer "Sunny" Ramo, 55, the owner of Sunny Market, located at 600 West Lake Mead Boulevard in North Las Vegas, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro to one count of receipt, possession and purchase of contraband cigarettes, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 22, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. Ramo's plea agreement requires that he abandon his gambling, liquor, and other business licenses in Clark County, not seek to reinstate those licenses, and sell the Sunny Market and two other stores he operates in Clark County, Sunny Market II and JB Liquors. Ramo also faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the plea agreement, on Feb. 28, 2012, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) officers received information that Ramo was purchasing items such as liquor and cigarettes from individuals who had stolen them from local retail establishments. In May and June 2012, a LVMPD detective made three undercover sales to Ramo at Sunny Market, including liquor, baby formula, and cigarettes which the detective told Ramo had been stolen. Then on July 11, 2012, Ramo purchased 12,000 cigarettes from the undercover detective for $300, and on July 25, 2012, Ramo purchased 36,000 cigarettes from the undercover detective for $750. On both occasions, Ramo was told that the cigarettes, which lacked stamps evidencing the payment of taxes required under state law, were stolen. Immediately after the last sale, state and federal search warrants were executed at Ramo's Sunny Market store, where law enforcement officials recovered some of the property, including the cigarettes that had been sold to Ramo by the undercover detective.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the LVMPD, Special Investigations Section, and the North Las Vegas Police Department, and was part of a federal and local law enforcement effort to combat organized retail theft. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christina M. Brown.