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Cigarette charge put on inactive court docket

February 26, 2001

Cigarette charge put on inactive court docket



By MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

The charge against one of two New York residents who were stopped in Washington County last fall with nearly 20,000 packs of untaxed cigarettes was placed on an inactive docket Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court.

Xiao Ming Li, 49, of Brooklyn, N.Y., had been charged with possession and transportation of unstamped cigarettes when she and a companion were apprehended Oct. 6, court records said.

Hua Shan Yu, 38, of New York City, entered a guilty plea to the same charge and was given a one-year suspended jail sentence. Probation was for one year and a fine of $2,000 was levied. Judge John H. McDowell accepted the plea.

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In early October, the Maryland Comptroller's office learned of a large purchase of untaxed cigarettes in Virginia during a surveillance operation, according to court records.

On. Oct. 6, the two were stopped on Interstate 81. In their car, authorities found 19,151 packs of untaxed cigarettes, court records said.

The woman, Xiao Ming Li, was identified with some difficulty because police said her fingerprints had been removed, according to court records. Both were released the day after their arrests on cash bonds of $10,000 each, jail officials said.

Court officials said Thursday that neither defendant speaks English. Their local attorneys worked through an interpreter provided by a New York law firm to communicate with the pair.

The Maryland tax loss on that many untaxed cigarettes was estimated at $12,639, with a retail sales loss of $63,006, court records said.

John Salvatore, attorney for Hua Shan Yu, told McDowell that the State of Maryland sold the cigarettes to recoup the loss.

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