Up in smoke

February 25, 2013 Helen Klein
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In the past two weeks, cops at the 68th Precinct have seized untaxed cigarettes brought into New York from Virginia with a total street value of $34,500.

Captain Richard DiBlasio, the precinct’s commanding officer, told this paper that the cigarettes were seized in two separate incidents.

On February 15, Police Officer Frank Cinolauro conducted a car stop at Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street. Inside the vehicle, DiBlasio said, were 55 cartons of cigarettes “in plain sight,” with a street value of over $7,000, that were missing their New York tax stamps, meaning that no tax had been paid on them in the state.

Then, said DiBlasio, on February 23, Police Officer Yuroslav Shvartsman stopped a car at Eighth Avenue and 64th Street “for a traffic infraction.

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“A number of cartons of cigarettes were observed on the back seat of the car,” he went on, noting that a “total of 210 unstamped cartons were removed from the car, with a street value of $27,000.”

The alleged perpetrators in both incidents were charged with possession with intent to sell unstamped (untaxed) cigarettes, which is a misdemeanor.

“The problem here is that some stores are looking to make any type of profit,” DiBlasio explained. “Meanwhile, they are bypassing New York revenue and hurting honest merchants who are doing business within the law.

The message to local merchants? “If you’re selling untaxed cigarettes, you’re going to get arrested for it,” DiBlasio stressed.

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