March 13, 2018

Worcester tobacco wholesaler sentenced for tax fraud

Flickr/Andrew E. Larson
A former Worcester wholesaler of cigars and other tobacco products will serve at least one year in prison for tax fraud.

A Worcester man will serve at least one year in prison after being convicted in federal court of skirting tax laws related to his tobacco business.

Mohamed Afeez, 32, was sentenced Monday to one year and a day in prison and three years of supervised release. He also must pay more than $970,000 in restitution and forfeiture, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for Massachusetts.

Afeez pleaded guilty in April to filing a false tax return and conspiracy, according to court filings.

According to the government, Afeez operated a wholesale business between late 2014 and July 2016 selling tobacco products including smokeless tobacco and other convenience store items to small stores and gas stations.

Business entity A&M Trading Limited, LTD, is listed as a corporation registered to Afeez, according to the Massachusetts Secretary of Commonwealth's website. The company is registered on Plantation Street in Worcester

Wholesalers of smokeless tobacco brought into Massachusetts are subject to a monthly excise tax of 210 percent, and cigar wholesalers must pay a quarterly tax of 40 percent.

However, Afeez found a way around those laws by purchasing loose smoking tobacco and smokeless tobacco from a distributor in tobacco tax-free Pennsylvania and personally driving the products back to Massachusetts with a co-conspirator.

Products were then sold wholesale in Massachusetts, generating more than $448,000 failing to show up on Afeez's income tax return in 2015.

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