A Maryland man has been convicted of 198 charges, including enterprise corruption, for running an untaxed cigarette ring that stocked convenient stores in New York City with more than a million cartons of illegal cigarettes.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Basel Ramadan's conviction on Tuesday. Ramadan, 44, was convicted after a bench trial that lasted nearly 10 weeks. He faces up to 30 years in prison, and dodged some $80 million in state taxes.
Schneiderman's office said that Ramadan and his brother bought the cigarettes from a Virginia wholesaler and stored them in Delaware, where an alleged co-conspirator, Adel Abuzahrieh, bought them.
Abuzahrieh has not yet gone to trial. Ramadan's brother, Samir Ramadan, pleaded guilty to enterprise corruption last year and is serving up to six years in prison.
More than 20,000 cartons a week were distributed and sold in convenient stores in Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey, according to the AG's office.
“This individual led a criminal enterprise that stretched from Maryland to New York, flooded our state with millions of cheap cigarettes, and cheated New Yorkers out of tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Not only did this enterprise put law-abiding businesses in New York at a competitive disadvantage, but it increased the possibility of violence that comes with any type of smuggling operation. I’m deeply gratified that justice has been served.”