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Office of the State Treasurer


February 1, 2006

Tom Vincz, (NJ Treasury)
(609) 633-6565


Casey DeBlasio (Mercer Pros.)
(609) 989-6379

Mercer Prosecutor and NJ Taxation Division Target
Illegal Cigarettes and DVDs

 ( TRENTON ) - New Jersey Taxation Division Director Robert K. Thompson and Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr. announced that a series of arrest and search warrants were executed late last week in Trenton by officers of the Division of Taxation and the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office in a continuing investigation into the of the sale of untaxed cigarettes and bootleg DVDs and video games. The investigation was begun by the Division of Taxation's Office of Criminal Investigation in response to numerous complaints from the Trenton Downtown Association and its members concerning the sale of untaxed cigarettes on street corners and at bus stops.

 This cooperative investigation led to a significant seizure of illegal cigarettes and the avoidance of a substantial loss of tax dollars to the State Treasury," commented Director Thompson. All cigarettes used or sold in New Jersey must have tax stamps affixed, proving that the State's tax of $2.40 per pack has been paid. In New Jersey , it is illegal to sell or cigarettes purchased in other states or over the Internet without paying all requisite taxes due to New Jersey . Untaxed cigarettes are illegally sold at prices well below the price at which law-abiding merchants can sell their products.

 The enforcement action began last Friday with the arrest of Tormu E. Prall, 33, of Trenton on charges of engaging in the sale of untaxed cigarettes. At the time of his arrest, Prall was in possession of 37 cartons of untaxed cigarettes. Search warrants were then executed at a house on Wayne Avenue in Trenton and two motor vehicles, resulting in the seizure of an additional 140 cartons of untaxed cigarettes, $3,300.00 in cash, and several hundred DVDs, CDs and video games. A 1995 Lexus was also seized along with computer hard drives, CD/DVD burners, and a large quantity of blank CDs and DVDs.

 The street value of the untaxed cigarettes seized is $11,012.94. Had these illegal cigarettes been sold to customers, the seller would have evaded both the state's Cigarette Tax and Sales & Use Tax, and the total amount of tax evaded would have been $4,871.04.

 Director Thompson expressed his appreciation to the staff of the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office for their outstanding assistance in obtaining and executing the search and arrest warrants, and to the Trenton Police Department for its assistance in the investigation.

 Prall is charged with one count of third-degree piracy.

Superior Court Judge Andrew Smithson set bail at $75,000 and Prall was remanded to the Mercer County Correction Center.

 Anyone with information regarding violations of the Cigarette Tax Act is encouraged to call the Division of Taxation, Office of Criminal Investigation's Tobacco Interdiction Program (TIP) Hotline at (609) 291-7153.

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