UPDATE: Two plead guilty in untaxed cigarette scheme

By The Associated Press

OXFORD — Two Kentucky men have pleaded guilty in Mississippi to federal charges of falsifying documents to evade the payment of taxes through the sale and distribution of contraband cigarettes.

Acting U.S. Attorney William C. Martin said Robert Ammerman of Falmount, Ky., and Mike Ammerman of Cynthiana, Ky., entered the pleas Tuesday before a judge in Oxford, Miss. A sentencing date is pending.

The Ammermans operated Farmer’s Tobacco Warehouse in Cynthiana.

Martin said an investigation showed the Ammermans were supplying large quantities of cigarettes to Mississippi wholesalers at a price that could not cover the required taxes and fees. In return, the wholesalers kept the cigarettes “off the books,” which meant they were not reported to the federal government and taxing authorities in Mississippi and Kentucky.

Martin said the two men pleaded guilty to a one-count information that accused each of making and causing to be made false monthly tobacco reports. A sentencing date is pending.

Martin said each man faces a maximum possible penalty of up to three years in prison; up to a $250,000 fine; and up to a year supervised release.

He said the Ammermans also agreed to forfeit to the United States $8 million representing the proceeds of their scheme.

In April-May 2009, two Tupelo area tobacco distribution warehouses were raided and millions of tobacco products were seized. They later were sold at auction by the state Auditor’s Office and the Mississippi Tax Commission.

Read more in Wednesday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.