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Father, son get suspended jail sentences

The California men also were ordered by a Washington County Circuit Judge to pay fines and court costs after they tried to smugg

The California men also were ordered by a Washington County Circuit Judge to pay fines and court costs after they tried to smugg

July 17, 2002|by KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

A father and son charged with smuggling nearly $8,000 in unlicensed cigarettes into Maryland were each sentenced Tuesday to one year in jail suspended plus fines and court costs by a Washington County Circuit Judge.

Samuel and Georgiy Sarkisyn of Glenndale, Calif., were charged in February with one count each of unlawfully possessing and transporting cigarettes.

Samuel Sarkisyn, 50, pleaded guilty to unlawfully transporting cigarettes and Georgiy Sarkisyn, 19, pleaded guilty to possession of unstamped cigarettes before Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick Wright. Their remaining charges were dropped in exchange for their pleas.


Deputy Washington County State's Attorney Charles Strong said Samuel Sarkisyn is a truck driver who delivers produce from the West Coast to Maryland and nearby states.

On Feb. 25, Samuel Sarkisyn was accompanied on his route by his son, Georgiy. Samuel Sarkisyn drove his tractor-trailer into Virginia and was seen by agents of the Maryland State Comptroller's Office entering a cigarette store on U.S. 11.

He came out of the store carrying two cases of cigarettes and handed them to his son, Strong said.

The two later stopped at another cigarette dealer in Virginia and purchased more cigarettes, Strong said.

The agents stopped the Sarkisyns when they entered Washington County. Cigarettes sold in Maryland must have a state tax stamp. The men were arrested because the cigarettes did not have a Maryland tax stamp and they did not have a permit or bill of lading to transport them, Strong said.

Strong said the men had 2,169 packs of cigarettes with a retail value of $7,916.

Defense Attorney Greg Bannon said his clients were en route to California and were going to "dispose" of the cigarettes there.

They were unaware of Maryland's laws, Bannon said.

The maximum penalty for unlawful transporting of cigarettes is a two-year jail sentence and a $50 fine per carton.

The maximum penalty for unlawfully possessing cigarettes is a $1,000 fine and one year in jail.

Bannon said Samuel Sarkisyn is married with two grown children and has lived in the United States since moving here from Armenia 12 years ago.

Georgiy Sarkisyn is a recent high school graduate and is planning to get certification to drive a tractor-trailer.

Georgiy Sarkisyn has a clean record and Samuel Sarkisyn had a petty theft conviction in 1999 from California, Bannon said.

"In this case, we're not seeking incarceration," Strong said of Georgiy Sarkisyn.

Wright sentenced Georgiy Sarkisyn to one year in jail suspended upon the payment of a $500 fine and court costs.

He handed down a one-year suspended sentenced for Samuel Sarkisyn as well, pending the payment of a $7,500 fine and court costs.

His clients had already lost the approximately $6,000 they paid for the cigarettes since they were confiscated and were only prepared to pay $2,000 that day, Bannon said.

The father and son were in the business of smuggling cigarettes and "knew the consequences if they were caught," Wright said.

Wright agreed to reduce Samuel Sarkisyn's fine to $3,000 to be paid within 30 days.

"I'll see how your word is," Wright said to the defendant.

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