Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tobacco stores owners sentenced for tax fraud

A federal tax-fraud scheme involving 14 owners of tobacco stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area essentially was wrapped up last week with the sentencing of two defendants.

Most of the defendants belonged to four groups of brothers with the last name Wazwaz who owned 52 tobacco stores, the Star Tribune said. The Minneapolis newspaper reported that the owners "made numerous attempts to conceal earnings and wealth through fraudulent bookkeeping and tax returns, as well as property transfers and large cash transactions."

As a result of the scheme, Minnesota lost $2.5 million in cigarette tax revenues. The stiffest sentence was meted out to Sabry Mohamed Wazwaz, who was ordered to serve 42 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release plus pay $1.2 million in restitution.