Ky. wholesaler bought stolen cigarettes

A Kentucky tobacco wholesaler paid $205,000 in 2006 to buy part of a load of stolen Marlboro cigarettes, according to documents filed Monday in federal court in Mississippi.

The businessman, Charles H. Wells of Hopkinsville, pleaded guilty in Mississippi recently to fraud charges.

He admitted taking part in a scheme to report that cigarettes were sold in Mississippi when in fact he sold them in Kentucky, avoiding a Kentucky tax and escrow fee.

But he also was involved in buying stolen cigarettes, a Miami-area man said in pleading guilty Monday.

Mitchell Sivina, 38, admitted acting as a broker between people who hijacked truckloads of cigarettes and tobacco wholesalers who bought them.

Documents filed in Sivina’s case said thieves stole a load of more then 1,000 cases of Marlboro cigarettes, valued at about $2 million, from a truck stop in Northern Kentucky in October 2006 and took it to Miami.

Within days, a tobacco wholesaler from Mississippi, Jerry Burke, flew to Hopkinsville and picked up $205,000 from Wells for his part of the load, then flew a private airplane to Miami to deliver a payment of $850,000 cash to Sivina, a court document said.

Sivina brokered eight other loads of stolen cigarettes, each containing 500 to 1,000 cases, to Burke and Wells, a court document said.

Wells has not been sentenced.


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