TRIBAL CIGARETTE WHOLESALER INDICTED FOR LYING TO COURT
Owner of New York Company Allegedly Submitted Multiple False Declarations in Smoke Shop Forfeiture Case
A Perrysburg, New York man turned himself in to authorities today on an indictment returned in the Western District of Washington State for five counts of False Declaration Before the Court. ARTHUR MONTOUR aka Sugar Montour, 37, made his initial appearance today in U.S. District Court in the Western District of New York. The indictment returned by the grand jury in Seattle on June 25, 2009, alleges that MONTOUR made multiple false statements in two declarations filed with the court in a civil forfeiture action. The United States was seeking more than $50,000, the proceeds of sales of contraband cigarettes. The cigarettes were purchased from MONTOUR’s company Native Wholesale Supply, by the operators of the Blue Stilly Smoke Shop near Arlington, Washington.
Native Wholesale Supply is a corporation chartered under the laws of the Sac and Fox tribes of Oklahoma. The corporation sells tobacco products from its main offices on Seneca Nation Territory in upstate New York. In February 2009, MONTOUR signed a declaration to be used in the civil forfeiture action, stating that his company had never sold cigarettes to the Blue Stilly Smoke Shop. In March 2009, MONTOUR filed a second declaration stating Blue Stilly had never placed any orders with his company. The declaration further claimed that his company had not operated out of a New Mexico warehouse. MONTOUR knew these statements were not true.
The United States is seeking to forfeit the proceeds of the illegal cigarette sales made by the Blue Stilly Smoke Shop. On March 16, 2009, three members of the Stillaguamish Tribe were sentenced to prison for their scheme to profit by selling contraband cigarettes without paying the applicable Washington State tax. Edward Leverne Goodridge, Sr., 60, and Edward Goodridge, Jr., 33, both of Arlington, Washington, and Sara Lee Schroedl, 40, now of Prescott, Arizona pleaded guilty in November 2008, to Conspiracy to Traffic in Contraband Cigarettes and Engaging in Monetary Transactions involving criminal proceeds. The three tribal members were on the tribal council when they set up a corporation to run the Blue Stilly Smoke Shop for their own personal profit. The Goodridges were each sentenced to 14 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Schroedl was sentenced to eight months in prison and two years of supervised release.
Evidence gathered from the searches of Blue Stilly and various cigarette suppliers revealed that between March 2003, and May 2007, the Blue Stilly had ordered and illegally sold in excess of 1.8 million cartons of cigarettes and generated more than $55 million in revenues from the illegal sales of cigarettes. The four conspirators personally profited $15 million, which they used for their own benefit and did not pay any cigarette tax to the State of Washington. The $50,000 being sought for forfeiture represents payments made by the Blue Stilly Smoke Shop to Native Wholesale Supply.
MONTOU was released on his personal recognizance, and will make his first appearance in federal court in the Western District of Washington on July 10, 2009.
Making a false declaration before the court is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI), and the Washington State Liquor Control Board. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mary K. Dimke, J. Tate London, and Richard E. Cohen.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.