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Nearly 500,000 cigarettes plus zero tax equals...prison?

Recently, a 67-year-old Moroccan was driving across Staten Island just after midnight when he was pulled over by the police. Law enforcement did not stop him for drunk driving, speeding or any other traffic law infraction. They did not suspect him of transporting cocaine or meth. They simply pulled him over because he had cigarettes in his van.

Nearly half a million cigarettes, that is. And all of them untaxed.

According to the story in CBS New York, an unnamed informant tipped the police off. When they searched the van, they discovered more than 2,000 cartons of cigarettes. After that, law enforcement decided to investigate the man's apartment as well — and turned up another 500 cartons and $40,000 in cash.

The man is facing felony charges for tax fraud and more. He has been identified as running a very profitable smuggling operation, supplying clients across Brooklyn and Staten Island with untaxed cigarettes. If he had been able to sell all the cigarettes that the police confiscated in this recent raid, the government would have lost more than $150,000 in taxes.

This story illustrates the point that felony crimes sometimes come in the most unexpected forms. They are not limited to aggravated robbery, heroin trafficking, murder or other stereotypical offenses.

Regardless of how unusual or mundane the alleged offense is, however, every felony charge calls for experienced representation from a local criminal defense lawyer. If you or someone you know has been charged with a felony or may be under investigation, do not hesitate to consult an attorney who can help protect your rights.

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