Florida Man Sentenced for Trafficking in over $4 Million of Contraband Cigarettes
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a Florida man has been sentenced in federal court for his role in a multi-million dollar, multi-state conspiracy to transport hundreds of thousands of cartons of contraband cigarettes from the Kansas City, Mo., area to the state of New York, where they were sold primarily on Indian reservations.
Gholamreza “Reza” Tadaiyon, 51, of Weston, Fla., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan on Thursday, July 23, 2015, to five years of probation and ordered to forfeit $1,046,320 to the government, representing the profit from the sale of contraband cigarettes. Tadaiyon has forfeited to the government $448,189 that was seized primarily from his bank accounts.
On Feb. 18, 2015, Tadaiyon pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and contraband cigarette trafficking from July 1, 2011 to Jan. 28, 2012. Tadaiyon, who owned Brand Name Connoisseurs, Corp., in Florida, purchased those cigarettes from co-defendant Craig Sheffler, 45, of Independence, through his business, Cheap Tobacco Wholesale.
Tadaiyon admitted that he and Sheffler made regular purchases of contraband cigarettes from undercover agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Kansas City, Mo. They coordinated the cigarette orders from vendors in New York and assisted in transporting the contraband cigarettes. Tadaiyon received approximately $1,046,320 in gross profit on these transactions.
Sheffler pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and awaits sentencing. Conspirators purchased more than $17 million worth of contraband cigarettes from ATF agents during the undercover operation. Approximately 620,600 cartons of cigarettes – containing 10 packs per carton – were transported to New York without paying the required $4.35 per pack excise tax. The untaxed cigarettes were sold by New York retailers and smoke shops on the reservations in the state of New York. The benefit to those smoke shops was that they did not pay New York state cigarette taxes; thus, they could undercut the prices charged by off-reservation cigarette retailers by over $40 per carton.
The total state excise tax lost to the state of New York was more than $8 million.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul S. Becker and Justin G. Davids. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and FDIC-Office of Inspector General.