Cigarette tax evader ordered to pay state $75,000

WOODSTOCK – A Maryland man was ordered Friday to pay $75,000 restitution to the Virginia state government after he pleaded guilty to two offenses related to a cigarette smuggling operation.

The defendant, Majid Hayat, was among a list of cigarette smugglers and tax evaders, many from out of state, who have been targeted by an undercover investigation conducted by the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office over the last several years.

Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp also sentenced Hayat to four years in prison, all suspended, and 60 years of unsupervised probation after the defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of selling untaxed cigarettes. Two related charges were dropped as a result of a plea agreement between Hayat and the prosecution.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola said Hayat bought and sold about 25,000 cartons of untaxed cigarettes, which resulted in the loss of thousands of dollars of revenue the defendant owed to the state of Virginia.

Hayat obtained the cigarettes from undercover agents from the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office who have been posing as cigarette sellers in an elaborate sting operation that has stretched over six years and involved millions of dollars.

“The Sheriff’s Office was selling untaxed cigarettes,” Campola said of the circumstances that led to Hayat’s arrest.

The smugglers take cigarettes sold by the thousands of cartons in Virginia and resell them in states such as New York that have a much higher cigarette tax. The smugglers pocket the difference between the low cost of obtaining cigarettes in Virginia and the money generated by sales in other states.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or

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