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Tax fraud investigation yields results

Revenue, ATC iniative shuts down targeted business

October 15, 2008

BATON ROUGE, La. (October 15, 2008) - An investigation by Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) and Criminal Investigations Division (CID) agents of the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) has resulted in the closure of Tobacco Junction, a Bossier Parish business targeted in a felony criminal case against its owner, Abdallah Yousef.

Yousef surrendered his tobacco license on September 23, 2008. This action resolved an ATC administrative case against Yousef. As a result, Tobacco Junction is no longer in business.

The felony criminal case against Yousef is pending in state district court in Bossier Parish.

On June 26, 2008, ATC agents executed a search warrant at Tobacco Junction during the course of a five-month investigation of the Bossier City tobacco wholesaler. The investigation was part of an aggressive, ongoing LDR initiative to attack fraud in Louisiana.

During the raid on Tobacco Junction, ATC investigators seized a computer, numerous financial documents, and identified two warehouse locations from which Yousef is believed to have conducted illegal tobacco smuggling operations.

Yousef was charged with evading more than $300,000 in taxes on tobacco sales, and was accused of laundering as much as $700,000 through Tobacco Junction. He faces the following felony charges:

• Theft Over $90,000
• Failure to Account for State Tax Money – 4 Counts
• Computer Fraud – 4 Counts
• Filing False Public Records – 4 Counts
• Money Laundering Over $700,000
• Racketeering

“We are dedicating significant resources in personnel and technology to the fight against tax fraud on the state and federal levels,” said Secretary of Revenue Cynthia Bridges. “

ATC Commissioner Murphy Painter added, “The state of Louisiana loses millions of dollars in revenue every year due to the trafficking of contraband tobacco products. The investigative services unit of ATC was created with funding from the legislature for the explicit purpose of attacking this illegal activity.”

For more information, please contact ATC Public Information Officer Sasha Hyderkhan at 225-922-0194.