Ukrainian National Pleads Guilty to Contraband Cigarettes
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Ukrainian national pleaded guilty in federal court today to transporting thousands of cartons of cigarettes from Missouri to Chicago, Ill., in order to avoid paying nearly $160,000 in excise taxes.
Yevhen Sychikov, 32, a citizen of Ukraine residing in Chicago, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to the interstate transportation of contraband cigarettes.
According to today’s plea agreement, Sychikov purchased large quantities of cigarettes at convenience stores in northwest Missouri then transported them back to Chicago, which has a much higher excise tax on cigarettes.
Sychikov purchased cigarettes from Trex Mart in Lathrop, Mo.; Discount Smoke and Liquor Store in Riverside, Mo.; and Tipsy Liquor in Smithville, Mo. On May 10, 2014, Sychikov purchased 20 cases (1,200 cartons) of cigarettes and transported them back to Chicago. On June 14 and 15, 2014, Sychikov purchased 1,395 cartons of cigarettes and transported them back to Chicago.
The tax rate on cigarettes in Missouri is 17 cents per pack. The Illinois state excise tax on cigarettes is $1.98 per package. Cook County, Ill., imposes an excise tax of $3 per package and the city of Chicago imposes an additional tax of $1.18 per package. Therefore, in the city of Chicago, the total excise tax is $6.16 per pack. The tax loss to Illinois, Cook County, and the city of Chicago was a total of $159,852.
Under federal statutes, Sychikov is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul S. Becker. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives NITRO Task Force.