Prosecution pushes leniency for tobacco scheme defendant

OXFORD – Federal prosecutors say a Florida man helped them snare others in a multi-state blackmarket tobacco conspiracy.
William Martin, assistant U.S. attorney, told the court in a two-page motion that Mitchell Sivina provided “substantial assistance” in the past four years of a nationwide investigation into the illegal trafficking of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Monday, prosecutors asked the U.S. District Court of Northern Mississippi to be lenient when sentencing Sivina on May 16.
Martin said Sivina, 40, of Doral, Fla., “made numerous controlled and recorded transactions” for the products and his cooperation “will likely continue to cause others to plead guilty or be charged.”
In April 2010, Sivina was indicted by a north Mississippi federal grand jury on two counts in a scheme to defraud state and federal governments of tobacco tax proceeds, as well as laundering some $800,000 in the transportation of cigarettes stolen from Kentucky.
He pleaded guilty in May 2010 and was freed on $15,000 bond.
The tobacco conspiracy unfolded in Lee County in the spring of 2009 when several fake warehouse raids were announced and suspects began to be rounded up by the FBI and local law enforcement. Only one defendant has been sentenced so far.
Sivina’s attorney recently objected to a pre-sentence report, asking the court for an alternative because of a deep emotional dependence on Sivina by his minor children.
If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal