Mobile County Business Man Sentenced to One Year Probation and Ordered to Pay Restitution After Felony Conviction for Trafficking in Contraband Cigarettes
United States Attorney Richard W. Moore of the Southern District of Alabama announced that Shahid Abassi, a 42 year old resident of Mobile, Alabama was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $622.17.
On December 19, 2018, Shahid Abassi entered a guilty plea pursuant to a plea agreement and admitted in open court that a cooperating citizen (CI) identified co-defendant Shameka Mallory and Abassi as individuals he illegally sold cigarettes to in the past which allowed them to knowingly evade the taxes due on the cigarettes that was required by the Alabama Department of Revenue. At that time, Abassi was the owner and operator of “Quick Stop Grocery.”
The ATF set up an undercover operation designed to confirm this conduct and to show that it continues. The ATF agents used the CI to act in an undercover capacity along with an undercover law enforcement officer to sell quantities of contraband cigarettes on numerous occasions to Mallory and Abassi that did not have a visible paid cigarette tax stamp affixed. Mallory and Abassi bought the contraband cigarettes cheap and then sold them for retail prices to patrons of the store for a profit of much more than they would have received had the cigarettes been purchased lawfully and taxed by the State of Alabama prior to retail sale.
From April 13, 2018, through June 6, 2018, the CI sold 370 packs of untaxed Newport cigarettes to Mallory and Abassi for various amounts of money on six different occasions while they were at their place of business called “Quick Stop Grocery,” located at 353 Cody Road, Mobile, Alabama, 36608. The tax loss to the Internal Revenue Service is $372.42. The tax loss to the State of Alabama is $249.75.
Officers of the Mobile, Alabama Police Department and special agents of the ATF investigated the case and brought it to the U. S. Attorney's Office for prosecution. The prosecutor assigned to the case is Assistant United States Attorney, Gina S. Vann.