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Examiner
  • Local company involved in cigarette fraud scheme

  • Federal authorities say an Independence company has been part of a $4 million scheme to illegally sell cigarettes and avoid taxes.

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  • Federal authorities say an Independence company has been part of a $4 million scheme to illegally sell cigarettes and avoid taxes.
    But they won’t say who it is.
    On Tuesday, a New York man, Keith Donald Stoldt, pleaded guilty in Kansas City to federal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and contraband cigarette trafficking, according to the office of the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
    Stoldt and his wife operate a smoke shop on the Tonawanda Secena Indian Reservation in Basom, N.Y. Stoldt was skirting New York’s excise tax of $4.35 per pack. A pack of cigarettes carries a stamp indicating the payment of taxes.
    The Independence company was an unindicted co-conspirator in the scheme, authorities say.
    Here’s what the U.S. attorney’s office says happened:
    Stoldt ordered more than $4.1 million in cigarettes from the president of an Oklahoma company that makes and distributes its own brand of cigarettes. The company and owner are not identified in court documents. That company or person would order the unstamped cigarettes from a Florida company – also not identified – which in turn ordered unstamped cigarettes from a cigarette wholesaler in Independence. The Florida business owner would come to Independence or elsewhere in the Kansas City area, pick up the cigarettes and take them to the Oklahoma company. From there, the cigarettes would be taken to a Nebraska company and then to the smoke shop in New York.
    Authorities say Stoldt knew the $4.35-per-pack tax had not been paid, and he would sell the cigarettes at a considerable discount. The loss in taxes to the state of New York was an estimated $4.37 million.
    In making the plea agreement, Stoldt forfeits $247,080 to the government and must pay restitution. He also faces probation. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
     
     

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