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Press Release

Syracuse-Area Brothers Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Traffic in Contraband Cigarettes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Jamal Hassan, age 42, of Liverpool, New York, and Saddam Hassan, age 39, of East Syracuse, New York, pled guilty yesterday to conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes, announced United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith.  Jamal Hassan also pled guilty to one count of a money laundering conspiracy. 

“Contraband cigarette dealers cheat state and local governments of tax revenue, and that lost revenue undercuts vital government programs,” said U.S. Attorney Grant C. Jaquith.  “These illegal sales also put honest businesses at a disadvantage.  Jamal and Saddam Hassan will now be held accountable for their efforts to line their pockets with unpaid taxes including forfeiture of $400,000.”

“Illicit cigarette smuggling is a highly profitable crime that steals from the taxpayer and funds other criminal activity," said Kevin Kelly, HSI Buffalo special agent in charge. “HSI, with our law enforcement partners, is committed to dismantling these criminal organizations that exploit our borders for profit.” 

New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt said, “When individuals knowingly sidestep their tax obligation everyone suffers. These blatant acts rob the local community of funding for valuable public programs and services in addition to placing honest business owners at a massive disadvantage. We’ll continue to work with law enforcement, from the federal level on down to ensure those responsible are held accountable.”

As part of their guilty pleas, the Hassan brothers admitted that they conspired to possess, sell, distribute, and purchase contraband cigarettes.  During searches at their residence and at a storage facility rented by Jamal Hassan and used by Saddam Hassan, law enforcement officers seized over 250,000 contraband cigarettes and over 760 counterfeit New York State tax stamps.  The Hassan brothers admitted that they sold the contraband cigarettes to markets and delis in the Syracuse area.  Jamal Hassan faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $500,000, and a term of 3 years of supervised release for his plea to conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Jamal Hassan and Saddam Hassan face a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release for their plea to conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes. 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 is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigation Buffalo Field Office; Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation; New York Police Department Intelligence Bureau-Strategic Intelligence Unit; New York State Department of Taxation and Finance; Oswego County Drug Task Force; and the Syracuse Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamara B. Thomson. 

Updated June 24, 2020