Local smoke shop sold contraband cigarettes

Posted at 10:39 AM, Dec 20, 2014
and last updated 2015-12-15 10:39:54-05

A Missouri man now admits transporting hundreds of thousands of cartons of contraband cigarettes to New York, where some were sold at a smoke shop in Irving.

Craig Sheffler, 45, of Independence pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and contraband cigarette trafficking. For two years, until January 2012, Sheffler bought unstamped cigarettes and brought them to New York without paying the $4.35 per pack excise tax.

The cigarettes were sold on smoke shops on reservations by several businesses, including AJ’s Candy & Tobacco in Irving.

Sheffler and his company had to forfeit $599,206 to the government, while AJ’s Candy & Tobacco forfeited $221,550 and was ordered to pay $535,050 in restitution to the State of New York.

As part of sentencing, AJ’s Candy & Tobacco must also pay a $1 million fine and has been banned from selling premium cigarettes for two years.

Sheffler admitted that he bought more than 620,000 cartons of cigarettes over the years and brought them to New York, totaling a loss of more than $7 million to the state tax coffers.

When he is sentenced, he could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.