Police: Two Albany stores charged with selling contraband cigarettes

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Police say two retail stores in downtown Albany won’t be able to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products for up to six months – because they were caught with untaxed tobacco products.

“Whether the amount is large or small, we take the possession and selling of untaxed cigars and cigarettes very seriously,” said New York State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Jerry Boone. “Throughout the state, our investigators are watching for this type of illegal activity.”

In both cases, the contraband products were discovered during routine regulatory inspections. The Tax Department provides a “Certificate of Registration” to each retail establishment that it authorizes to sell cigarettes and tobacco products. The Department’s criminal investigators periodically visit those stores to ensure legal compliance.

In each of these cases, as a result of the violations, the business’s Certificate of Registration was suspended, in addition to criminal charges.

333 South Pearl St.

Investigators say they entered Chicho’s Chicken and Deli at 333 South Pearl Street to carry out a routine inspection, and discovered that 1,726 untaxed cigars and 20 cartons of untaxed cigarettes were for sale.

Authorities say 49-year-old Juan Carlos Reynoso-Fabian, who lives at the same address as the business, was charged with crimes for possession of untaxed tobacco and possession of untaxed cigarettes for sale. He was issued two tickets and is scheduled to appear in Albany City Court on a later date.

Reynoso-Fabian currently is on parole from a five to 15 year prison sentenced he received several years ago for dealing in illegal cigarettes and counterfeit tax stamps.

335 Clinton Ave.

Investigators saythey found 20 cartons of contraband cigarettes at the USA Grocery Deli 1 located at 335 Clinton Avenue after a routine inspection.

According to authorities, 41-year-old Mustafa Abdulla Algaithi of 215 3rd Street, Albany, was charged with crimes for possession of untaxed cigarettes for sale, and altering the tax stamps affixed to cigarette packages. He was issued two appearance tickets.

All cigarette packs sold in New York must have a New York State cigarette tax stamp affixed to the bottom, verifying that the excise taxes have been paid. Investigators believe Algaithi removed portions of tax stamps affixed to legal cigarette packs. He then taped the removed stamp portions to illegally possessed cigarette packs that had no stamp, in an effort to make it appear that those cigarettes were taxes and legal.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. These cases will be prosecuted by the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.

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