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More than 1,000 Cartons of Illegal Cigarettes Seized in Staten Island Defendant faces up to $615,000 in fines and four felony charges; Richmond County DA to prosecute

For Release: Immediate,

For press inquiries only, contact: James Gazzale, 518-457-7377

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today announced the seizure of 1,025 cartons of contraband cigarettes in Staten Island.

The cigarette packs in the cartons had official Virginia tax stamps, but not the New York State and New York City tax stamps required by law.

NYS Tax Department Cigarette Strike Force investigators arrested Adama Zoungrana, 48, of 201 Lake Avenue, Staten Island, for allegedly making deliveries of contraband cigarettes with his personal vehicle, which was seized along with the cigarettes and $2,720 in cash.

He was charged with 2nd degree criminal tax fraud, three other felonies, and a misdemeanor. He also faces fines of up to $600 per carton seized, which could be as much as $615,000 in this case.

“Cigarette trafficking is a serious offense, one that puts honest vendors at a competitive disadvantage and deprives communities of vital tax revenue,” said Acting Commissioner Nonie Manion. “Our Cigarette Strike Force investigators will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who ignore our laws face justice.”

Zoungrana was released on his own recognizance. A follow-up court date has not been set. A criminal complaint is only an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The case will be prosecuted by the Richmond County District Attorney.

Report fraud

You can report tax evasion and fraud online at the Tax Department's website or by calling 518-457-0578. The information is kept confidential. The Tax Department promptly reviews each complaint and takes corrective action when appropriate.

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