Rhode Island - c-store, another case of selling cigarettes that lack state tax stamp..

July 16, 2009 - The Pawtucket, R.I. police have charged the owner of a convenience store with offenses that include selling cigarettes that lacked a Rhode Island tax stamp and with counterfeiting the tax stamp.

We have previously reported that dishonest Rhode Island retailers often buy cigarettes from Virginia where the tax is just 30 cents, then scratch the Virginia name away and sell the cigarettes at Rhode Island prices, pocketing more than 2 bucks a pack. The state tax in Rhode Island on cigarettes is $3.46 a pack, the highest in the nation. (Rhode Island retailers finding ways to avoid paying tobacco tax..)

In this latest case Abdulkhalek Darwich, 40, of 48 Johnson St., pleaded not guilty in District Court Tuesday and was released pending a court appearance, according to Maj. Arthur Martins of the police. Darwich also was charged with receiving stolen goods and importation of cigarettes with intent to evade tax. The police said they used an informant and conducted surveillance on the One Stop Deli, 454 Pawtucket Ave. Investigators obtained search warrants after receiving information that stolen items were being sold at the store, they said.

Items confiscated via the warrants included personal care products and other household goods, electronic items and 10 cartons of cigarettes with Virginia and Massachusetts tax stamps. Investigators also found more than 70 cartons of cigarettes in a parked car belonging to the suspect, they reported, all with Virginia tax stamps.

Reference: Store owner charged with selling illegal cigarettes, Thomas J. Morgan, Projo 7 to 7 News Blog, 7/15/2009.