SWINOMISH TRIBAL MEMBERS PLEAD GUILTY TO CONTRABAND CIGARETTE SCHEME
Failed to Pay more than $10 Million in State or Tribal Tax on Cigarettes
Two members of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, C. MARVIN WILBUR, 71, his wife, JOAN C. WILBUR, 72, and their daughters-in-law, APRIL M. WILBUR, 44, and BRENDA R. WILBUR, 49, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Conspiracy to Traffic in Contraband Cigarettes. JOAN and C. MARVIN WILBUR also pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments. The Wilburs owned and operated the Trading Post at March Point on the Swinomish Indian Reservation near Anacortes, Washington. They were indicted last July for a scheme to sell untaxed (contraband) cigarettes. All four will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman on May 7, 2010.
According to the plea agreements signed today, between July 1999, and May 2007, the Trading Post purchased nearly 800,000 cartons of contraband cigarettes. These cigarettes did not have the requisite stamps indicating the taxes to Washington State or the Swinomish Tribe had been paid. The defendants then sold the cigarettes to the general public, generating at least $13 million in revenue. The defendants did not pay the tribal or state taxes of nearly $11 million. The exact amount of restitution owed by the WILBURs will be determined at sentencing.
On May 15, 2007, law enforcement officers seized more than 3.6 million contraband cigarettes from the Trading Post. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the WILBURS will forfeit the cigarettes and more than $130,000 in cash seized during the search and from bank accounts.
While law enforcement was executing a search warrant at the Trading Post and their home, MARVIN and JOAN WILBUR went to local banks and moved $1.2 million dollars. JOAN WILBUR cashed out certificates of deposit and applied more than $603,000 to existing business loans. MARVIN WILBUR went to another bank and cashed out more than $608,000 worth of certificates of deposits and cashier’s checks. They did this knowing that some of the money came from the illegal sale of contraband cigarettes. This conduct constitutes the Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments, to which both JOAN and MARVIN WILBUR are pleading guilty. Under the plea agreement the couple will forfeit an additional $603,299 in cash or equity in property to the government.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a prison term of no more than 18 months for C. MARVIN WILBUR, 12 months for JOAN C. WILBUR and prison terms of no more than 10 months each for APRIL M. WILBUR, and BRENDA R. WILBUR. The WILBURs have reserved the right to appeal various legal issues related to their convictions to the court of appeals.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and the Washington State Liquor Control Board investigated the case.
Assistant United States Attorneys J. Tate London, Mary K. Dimke, and Richard E. Cohen are prosecuting the case. Mr. London serves as the Tribal Liaison for the United States Attorney’s Office.
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.