Cumberland Times-News

December 2, 2012

Maryland comptroller agents seize contraband cigarettes

For the Cumberland Times-News
Associated Press

— HAGERSTOWN — Agents from the comptroller’s office field enforcement division, in cooperation with the Northern Virginia Cigarette Tax Board, recently confiscated $15,976 worth of contraband cigarettes on Interstate 81 in Hagerstown.

In a two-day operation, agents seized 2,477 packs of illegal cigarettes and arrested one man.

“My agents will continue to aggressively crack down on cigarette smuggling and other illegal tax evasion tactics,” said Comptroller Peter Franchot. “This activity will not be tolerated in Maryland.”

After witnessing the defendant purchase a large quantity of cigarettes at multiple locations in Virginia, which has a lower tax rate for the product, law enforcement officials stopped Brian Wilson, 55, of Tillison, N.Y., and seized his 1,680 packs of contraband cigarettes as well as his 2005 Suzuki.

He has been charged with transporting contraband cigarettes and possession of contraband cigarettes. The transporting charge is a felony, which carries a $50 per carton fine and/or two-year imprisonment sentence. The possession offense is a misdemeanor, carrying a $1,000 fine and/or imprisonment, not exceeding one year.

Agents said they also witnessed Lorraine Brown, 56, of Waterbury, Conn., purchasing a large amount of cigarettes in Virginia and stopped her 1989 Volvo on I-81 in Hagerstown. Agents discovered nearly 800 packs of illegal cigarettes worth $5,140.

She was issued a criminal citation and agents seized the contraband and her vehicle.