Staten Island Businessman Operating in Bucks County Sentenced to One Year in Prison for Tobacco Smuggling
PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Ramzi Al Najar, 43, of Staten Island, NY, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay over $7.8 million in restitution by United States District Court Judge Petrese B. Tucker for smuggling smokeless tobacco products across state lines to avoid paying the associated taxes.
The defendant operated Capital Trade, Inc., a tobacco wholesaler based in Bristol, PA. During the charged conduct, Al Najar and his associates transported almost $40 million worth of tobacco from Pennsylvania to New York, while failing to pay millions of dollars in New York state excise taxes on that tobacco. In order to hide his scheme, the defendant and his associates created false invoices and filed false documents with Pennsylvania and New York regulators which substantially underreported the amount of tobacco sold. Al Najar also failed to register and report as an interstate seller of smokeless tobacco as required by the Prevent All Cigarette Smuggling Act (PACT Act).
“The defendant thought he found a loophole to fast money, by cheating both Pennsylvania and New York out of substantial taxes owed for the sale of tobacco products,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “But now he is the one paying the price. Everyone has to follow the law, and our Office is here with our federal, state, and local level partners to enforce that standard.”
“The FDA closely monitors retailer, manufacturer, importer, and distributor compliance with Federal tobacco laws and regulations and takes enforcement action when violations occur, as in this case of trafficking in contraband tobacco,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark S. McCormack, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office. “We will continue to monitor the tobacco environment, investigate violations and bring perpetrators to justice.”
The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigation, and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Criminal Division, with assistance from: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives, the New York State Department of Tax and Finance, Criminal Investigations Division, and the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, Criminal Investigation Division. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert J. Livermore and Frank A. Weber.
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
615 Chestnut Street, Suite 1250
Philadelphia, PA 19106
If you have not done so already, follow @USAO_EDPA and @USAttyWilliams on Twitter to get the most up-to-date information about big cases and community news.