Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced that Wad Alkhiamy, (DOB: 4/2/52) of Johnston, pled nolo contendere yesterday before Superior Court Justice Jeffrey A. Lanphear to possession of unstamped cigarettes. Alkhiamy is the owner and operator of AJ's Variety Store located at 1031 Plainfield Street in Johnston. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Alkhiamy paid $25,000 in restitution to the Rhode Island Division of Taxation and the Rhode Island State Police and forfeited the contraband cigarettes.
In Rhode Island, as in many states, each pack of cigarettes cannot be sold until it is stamped with a special state tax stamp-- which shows that tax has been paid on the cigarettes, as is required by law. Under Rhode Island General Laws chapter 44-20, the sale of contraband cigarettes is strictly prohibited.
Had the case proceed to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Alkhiamy was in possession of unstamped cigarettes for sale in his store. Alkhiamy was arrested on November 8, 2011 as part of a sweep conducted by the Rhode Island State Police and the Department of Revenue. Upon execution of a search warrant, Rhode Island State Police detectives and Department of Revenue agents found unstamped and Virginia-stamped cigarettes in the store and in the defendant's home and automobile. All contraband cigarettes were seized and ordered destroyed by the court.
"Cigarette taxes make up a significant portion of tax revenue for the State of Rhode Island. We have an obligation that all our retailers play by the same rules, follow the law and collect the tax for the State of Rhode Island. I commend the work of the Rhode Island State Police and the Division of Taxation for making this a priority and holding retailers accountable," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
"The message is clear: The Rhode Island Attorney General's Office, the Rhode Island State Police, and the Rhode Island Division of Taxation will not tolerate violating the state's tax laws," said Rhode Island Tax Administrator David M. Sullivan. "Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and Colonel Steven O'Donnell have been relentless in their efforts to crack down on wrongdoers so that Rhode Island can provide a fair and level playing field for the many retailers who obey the law and pay the appropriate tax that's due," Sullivan added.