New York man accepts plea for cigarette trafficking

WOODSTOCK – A New York man pleaded guilty to counts of money laundering and the possession of untaxed cigarettes in Shenandoah Circuit Court on Wednesday and will have to pay the state $10,000 in restitution charges.

Juan “Angel” Encarnacion, of 1575 Gran Councourse B-31, Bronx, New York, accepted a plea deal arranged by his attorney Todd Gilbert and prosecutors with the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp sentenced Encarnacion to two years of supervised probation. Hupp suspended the six years of prison time that Encarnacion’s charges usually entail.

Additionally, Encarnacion will have to pay $10,000 in restitution to the Virginia Department of Taxation. As per the plea deal, Encarnacion only pleaded guilty to money laundering and possession of untaxed cigarettes.

Originally, Encarnacion faced five counts of conducting unlawful financial transactions, five counts of racketeering, and 10 counts of selling cigarette packages without their stamps, according to the Circuit Court online case file.

According to a proffer of evidence from Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Louis Campola, Encarnacion brought more than 3,000 packs of cigarettes from Mount Jackson to New York City for untaxed resale.

Encarnacion is one of several defendants who have been prosecuted in Harrisonburg and Shenadoah County for the illegal sale of untaxed cigarettes. The prosecutions are the result of undercover investigations from the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The investigation of Encarnacion dates back to February 2013. He was arrested July 17, 2015.

Tito Llanes also appeared on the docket Wednesday for the illegal sale of untaxed cigarettes and conducting unlawful financial transactions. His case was continued to 2 p.m. Oct. 2.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com