North Country Man Pleads Guilty to Contraband Cigarette Charges
Jeffrey Lazare Failed to Keep Records Relating to Cigarette Sales
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Jeffrey Lazare, age 47, of Hogansburg, New York, pled guilty today to failing to maintain required records relating to the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, announced United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Tom Crone, Assistant Administrator for Field Operations, U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB). Sentencing is scheduled for June 7, 2018, in Utica, New York.
In pleading guilty, Jeffrey Lazare admitted that from January 2014 through August 2014, in Franklin County, he shipped, sold, and distributed quantities of cigarettes in excess of 10,000 in single transactions and failed to maintain required information about these transfers as required by federal law. Lazare further admitted that during this period his business generated proceeds of at least $3,500,000.00 from his unlicensed cigarette manufacturing operation.
As part of his guilty plea today, Lazare admitted that on numerous occasions between January 2014 and August 2014, as the sole owner of Braves Manufacturing and/or Braves Packaging, he shipped, sold, or distributed quantities of cigarettes in single transactions involving in excess of 10,000 cigarettes, to numerous tobacco and cigarette vendors. Lazare failed to keep required records concerning the shipment, sale, and distribution of cigarettes, which records are mandated to include the identity of, and shipping information for, the purchaser.
Lazare also admitted that his failure to maintain required records was part of an effort to avoid paying the Federal Excise Tax (FET) on the cigarettes he manufactured and distributed, and that the thirty-eight (38) separate sales of 10,000 or more cigarettes were subject to an FET of at least $247,623.60 that was not paid.
The plea agreement in this case calls for a recommended sentence for Lazare of one year and a day imprisonment, and forfeiture of $3,500,000, which includes $957,065.00 seized by federal authorities from the defendant’s bank account in 2013. The Court can also impose a term of supervised release of up to one year. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB) and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl Eurenius.