By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
More than two years after federal agents raided a Sharon wholesale tobacco distribution company, a grand jury has indicted the company and a former employee with 28 counts of filing false reports of cash transactions.
USA Trading Corp., 217 W. Budd St., and the company’s former manager, Tareq Alsadi, aka Tareq Alasade, 39, of Youngstown, were indicted July 23 in Pittsburgh.
The indictment charges them with filing IRS Form 8300s that “omitted information regarding the true sources of the cash received by defendant USA Trading Corp.”
The IRS says on its website that Form 8300 must be filed whenever a business receives a cash payment of $10,000 from one buyer as a result of a single transaction or two or more related transactions.
Form 8300 is a tool to combat money laundering, the IRS said.
The indictment lists 28 cash receipts of more than $10,000 USA Trading allegedly received between July 5 and Sept. 30, all 2011.
The total amount of money involved in those transactions was $579,366, according to the indictment, which seeks forfeiture of that amount.
Alsadi, 39, and the company were arraigned July 29. Each pleaded not guilty and were released on bond.
Alsadi was interviewed by investigators Feb. 9, 2011, the day the business was raided by agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Following the raid, the federal government filed a civil suit against the company, accusing it of grossing hundreds of thousands of dollars by skirting New York and Michigan excise taxes.
Between January 2008 and Feb. 9, 2011, the company shipped by commercial carrier thousands of pounds of tobacco products to New York and Michigan customers who did not report the purchases to tax authorities, the civil suit said.
USA Trading laundered the proceeds of the sales by depositing them in company bank accounts and paying expenses with it, the suit said.
The civil suit was stayed March 29, 2011, until the conclusion of the criminal investigation, and the federal government auctioned the tobacco products for $1,356,000, almost twice the starting bid.
If convicted, Alsadi could be imprisoned for up to 5 years on each count and fined up to $250,000. The company could be put on probation and fined.