4 Rockland Co. entrepreneurs arrested on tax evasionPosted: Updated:
Police arrested four Rockland County business owners Friday on tax evasion charges related to the illegal sale of cigarettes.
According to District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, Moshen Taskindoust, Ruben Marte, Mohammed Shiekh and David Armstrong evaded more than $500,000 in state and local taxes.
He says the men obtained cigarettes from other states, Indian reservations and foreign countries, and then sold them to vendors or individuals without reporting it to the Internal Revenue Service.
The cigarette packages looked real, Zugibe says, because the suspects used irons and fans to place tax stamps on them.
"These dishonest business owners were getting an unfair competitive advantage over the honest business owners," Zugibe says.
The arrest of the suspects came as a result of a six-month undercover sting operation, which started after a routine tax inspection revealed discrepancies in the accounting books of the four men, including Taskindoust, who owns Nader's Wholesale Tobacco and Candy in Haverstraw.
In the course of the bust, tax agents seized stun guns, thousands of dollars and records allegedly linking Taskindoust to the crime ring.
According to authorities, another suspect, Armstrong, evaded over $6,000 in taxes and purchased more than 200 untaxed cartons of cigarettes.
If convicted, all four men could face up to seven years behind bars on tax evasion. The district attorney says the suspects could also face additional charges.