Jul 26, 2014

Cranston Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Contraband Cigarettes

Abdullah Alnahas is facing up to 10 years in federal prison for selling smokes bought in Virginia where taxes are much lower and sold here.

Cranston Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Contraband Cigarettes
The owner of a Cranston convenience store is facing up to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges of participating in a million dollar contraband cigarette scheme.

Abdullah Alnahas, 36, of Cranston, allegedly brought more than 6 million contraband cigarettes from Virginia and sold them in Rhode Island, costing the state $500,000 in tax stamp payments.

Abdullah Alnahas is one of eight defendants named in federal grand jury indictments returned in May and September 2013 that allege that beginning in July 2011, the defendants participated in a scheme to traffic contraband cigarettes into Rhode Island. It is alleged that several “shell” corporations were created in Virginia and that several vacant retail storefronts in Virginia were rented for the stated purpose of purchasing and reselling cigarettes in Virginia. The cigarette packages purchased included Virginia tax stamps, reflecting a Virginia tax of 35 cents per package.

However, according to the indictments, it is alleged that more than 30-thousand cartons (six million cigarettes) of cigarettes valued at more than $1.2 million that were purchased in Virginia were shipped to Rhode Island for resale in a truck bearing Rhode Island War Veteran Plates. It is alleged that on numerous occasions, the truck was driven by a Rhode Island man, while wearing his United States Army uniform, in an effort to gain favor and avoid law enforcement detection.

To date, co-defendants Valeria Mendez (Khalil) and Richard Larrain have filed notice with the court of their intention to plead guilty for their roles in the conspiracy and other alleged illegal activities. A trial date of April 8, 2014, has been scheduled for the remaining defendants, Bassam Kiriaki, Wissam Khalil, Bassam Khalil, and Najd Khalil. An arrest warrant has been issued for an eighth defendant, Nazir Khalil.

An indictment is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland.

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