Albany men admit to selling untaxed cigarettes

Wednesday, July 3, 2013
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— Two Albany County tobacco sellers admitted in court Wednesday to possessing untaxed cigarettes, state tax officials said.

The two were arrested in April as part of a larger state investigation focusing on “roll-your-own” cigarette outlets in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley.

The two cases resolved Wednesday were prosecuted by the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.

The first case involved Zhuying Chen of the Tobacco House of Juan in Westgate Plaza on Central Avenue in Albany. Chen pleaded guilty to one count of possessing quantities of pre-rolled, untaxed cigarettes that were offered to the public for sale.

In pleading guilty, he agreed to forfeit two cigarette rolling machines valued new at $35,000 each, a computer, 117 cartons of untaxed cigarettes and $11,000 in cash seized at the location. He also agreed to pay $12,000 in taxes, penalties and fines.

The other case involved Cai Lin of Tobacco House of EA on Central Avenue in Colonie. Lin forfeited two cigarette rolling machines, a computer, a vehicle and 140 cartons of untaxed cigarettes. Lin also agreed to pay $12,000 in taxes, penalties and fines.

Without paying the state cigarette taxes, the shops were able to sell cartons for as little as $35, officials said; they normally cost as much as $100.

Eight other individuals were charged at other businesses. Those cases remain pending.

“Cigarette taxes in New York state are used to fund critical public health programs for our citizens,” state Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox said in a statement. “Not only did these individuals cheat the state out of necessary funds, but they attempted to gain an unfair advantage over honest business owners who comply with their tax responsibilities.”

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