Atlantic County Man Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison for Trafficking Over 100,000 Cartons of Contraband Cigarettes
CAMDEN, NJ—An Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 57 months in prison for trafficking millions of dollars in contraband cigarettes, laundering the proceeds through his South Jersey store and participating in a $2 million mortgage scheme in New York, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Muhammad Shafique, 44, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman to charges of conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. Judge Hillman imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From June 2010 through February 2012, Shafique engaged in a large-scale operation to traffic 149,668 cases of contraband cigarettes and defraud New Jersey of more than $4 million dollars in tax revenue. Shafique purchased the cigarettes from undercover officers and then laundered the proceeds through the bank account of Get & Go Supermarket in Pleasantville, New Jersey, a store he purchased in part with funds from the scheme.
Shafique was also involved in a separate conspiracy to use stolen identities to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans on properties in New York. Using falsified identification documents and straw buyers posing as the actual homeowners, Shafique and other conspirators defrauded various banks and lenders out of almost $2 million.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Hillman sentenced Shafique to serve five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $4,046,382 for the cigarette trafficking and an additional $1,405,000 for the mortgage fraud.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker, and special agents of the FBI in New Jersey and New York, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford and Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos, respectively.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Diana Carrig of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden, New Jersey.