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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 12, 2018

Man Pleads Guilty to $1.3 Million Cigarette Tax Fraud

RICHMOND, Va. – A Glen Allen man pleaded guilty today to engaging in an illegal cigarette tax fraud that caused a loss of over $1.3 million to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

According to court documents, Sunil Thawrani, 49, from January 2015 to March 2017, Thawrani used several credit cards to purchase large quantities of cigarettes from stores such as Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club. During each purchase, Thawrani and co-conspirators completed the Form ST-10, or the Commonwealth of Virginia Sales and Use Tax Certificate of Exemption, stating that the purchased cigarettes were purchased for resale in the regular course of business and that he and his co-conspirators would pay the proper taxing authority all taxes. Thawrani subsequently resold those cigarettes in bulk amounts at his wholesale business, Noor Wholesale of Farmville, Inc., aka Sunny’s Wholesale. Thawrani and co-conspirators sold the majority of the cigarettes purchased at Sunny’s Wholesale in bulk amounts to individuals who then resold the cigarettes outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia as untaxed cigarettes. Thawrani and co-conspirators did not collect or pay the applicable Virginia Retail Sales and Use Tax for the cigarettes sold to out of state individuals, causing an actual loss to the Commonwealth of Virginia in the amount of over $1.3 million.

Thawrani pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on June 14. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gabrielle Michalak is prosecuting the case.

This case was investigated by the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA Northern Virginia Financial Initiative and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:18-cr-17.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated March 12, 2018