North Country Man Sentenced to Prison, Ordered to Pay $3.5 Million for Contraband Cigarette Sales
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Jeffrey Lazare, age 48, of Hogansburg, New York, was sentenced yesterday to one year and one day in prison, and to pay a money judgment of $3.5 million, for failing to maintain required records relating to the manufacture and sale of cigarettes.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Ronald N. Hancock, Acting Assistant Administrator for Field Operations, U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB).
Lazare pled guilty on February 14, 2018 before United States District Judge David N. Hurd. He admitted that from January 2014 through August 2014, in Franklin County, and as part of an effort to defraud the United States, he shipped, sold, and distributed quantities of cigarettes in excess of 10,000 in single transactions and failed to maintain required records. These records include the identity of, and shipping information for, each purchaser.
During this period, Lazare’s business, Braves Manufacturing and Braves Packaging, generated proceeds of at least $3.5 million from his unlicensed cigarette manufacturing operation.
Lazare’s 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. His 38 separate sales of 10,000 or more cigarettes were subject to an FET of at least $247,623.60 that he did not pay.
The forfeiture figure of $3.5 million included $957,065.00 seized from Lazare’s bank account in 2013.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB), and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl Eurenius.