NewsRegionAnne Arundel County


Largest tobacco bust in the history of the Maryland Comptroller's office

Posted at 6:27 PM, Nov 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-20 18:27:33-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A large illegal tobacco bust brings accolades to the comptrollers office.

The tax enforcement division of Peter Franchot's office uncovered a nearly half million dollar scam going on in Prince George's County.

More than $450,000 of illegal tobacco products brought from another state that does not have a state tax and sold here in Maryland to cut cost for the seller. Jeff Kelly is the director for the tax enforcement division for the comptrollers office.

"So we believe here they were probably coming from Pennsylvania and smuggling the product into the state, storing it and then selling it to local retailer for resale," Kelly said.

The boxes in this room have almost a half a million dollars worth of illegal tobacco products, that means more than a quarter-million dollars of lost taxes for Maryland.

$286,325.42 worth of taxes not available for Maryland.

"These are funds that should be used for things like public safety, education, health care, protecting our kids, protecting our citizens," Kelly said.

Last session, in a dispute with President of the Senate Mike Miller, the office of enforcement which was responsible for this raid, was set up to be removed from the comptrollers office to be run by another division. Many believe this was done by President Miller in a grudge with the comptroller. Leadership is about to change in the senate and Senator Benson says it might be time to re-think this change.

"Well I think in view of what has happened here and the way the comptrollers office has worked with us, I think that we in the senate and the house should really re-visit what was discussed last year."

The majority of these raids came in the Capital Heights area of Prince George's County.