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Alleged smugglers charged with planning murder of witnesses

A man who was allegedly involved in a cigarette-smuggling ring that stretched from New York to Virginia has additionally been accused of plotting to have witnesses murdered while he was in prison. His criminal defense lawyer claims that the man was "venting" rather than actually planning murder.

The 42-year-old man and 16 other Palestinian immigrants were accused in the spring of 2013 of a scheme to sell more than one million cartons of cigarettes that were not taxed. They allegedly bought large quantities of cigarettes from a wholesaler in Virginia and concealed them in Delaware at a public storage facility. Their distributors would then sell approximately 20,000 cartons to upstate grocery stores. This scheme has reportedly cost the state of New York approximately $80 million in lost revenue.

In August, one of the men and an accomplice who were in police custody allegedly spoke to an undercover police officer who was posing as a hit man. According to the allegations, the man used a recorded jail phone to give the undercover officer details regarding two people he believed were cooperating with the authorities. The man and his accomplice plan to fight the charges in addition to the smuggling charges.

Accusations of conspiracy and criminal solicitation are serious and could result in an extended jail sentence should an individual be convicted on these charges. Further, a criminal record containing convictions on these types of charges could limit certain major opportunities for the rest of an individual's life. A New York criminal defense attorney may be able to help someone in a similar situation by providing a strong defense against the accusations. For example, the attorney may be able to effectively challenge any evidence that the prosecution believes is incriminating.

Source: ABC News, "Accused Smokes Smuggler Charged in NY Murder Plot", Jennifer Peltz, October 18, 2013

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