HARRISBURG, (PRNewswire) — An Allegheny County storeowner has been fined $800 after pleading guilty to selling illegal cigarettes, Secretary of Revenue Gregory C. Fajt said today.
Pramodchandra “Peter” Bhatt, 41, owner of Discount Tobacco & News, 1929 Murray Ave., Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty on Sept. 29 to one count each of selling unstamped cigarettes and possessing unstamped cigarettes. Magisterial District Judge Nathan N. Firestone sentenced Bhatt to pay an $800 fine, plus court costs. As part of an agreement, Bhatt paid $1,549 in restitution to the commonwealth for state cigarette and sales taxes owed for previous purchases of unstamped cigarettes.
All cigarettes sold legally in Pennsylvania are marked with a Pennsylvania Cigarette Tax stamp to show that the appropriate tax has been paid. The Cigarette Tax is imposed on the ultimate consumer, but licensed Cigarette Stamping Agents remit the tax, currently $1.35 per pack of 20 cigarettes, to the commonwealth.
Department of Revenue investigators found 197.9 cartons, or 1,979 packs, of unstamped cigarettes in Bhatt’s store in Pittsburgh.
Possessing or selling unstamped cigarettes in Pennsylvania is illegal. If a Pennsylvania resident is found in possession of more than one carton, but less than five cartons of cigarettes not marked with a Pennsylvania tax stamp, he or she could be subject to a maximum of 90 days imprisonment and/or a fine of $300. If a Pennsylvania resident is found selling unstamped cigarettes, he or she could be subject to a maximum of 60 days imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1,000.