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2 Wholesalers Charged With Defrauding Connecticut Of $5.8M In Tobacco Taxes

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Gavel Photo Credit: File

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A federal grand jury in Bridgeport indicted two tobacco wholesalers on charges of defrauding Connecticut of millions of dollars in taxes due on tobacco products imported into the state, prosecutors said.

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that, on January 10, a grand jury in Bridgeport returned

The 13-count indictment for Pavan Vaswani, 39, of West Haven, and Rishi Malik, 45, formerly of Fairfield, was handed down on Jan. 10.

Vaswani and Malik were arrested Thursday and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel in Bridgeport.

Malik was detained pending a detention hearing Jan. 16. Vaswani was released on $250,000 bond.

Vaswani has operated KDV Discounts, a wholesale tobacco business based in Bridgeport. Malik previously operated the business as Connecticut Discounts before selling it to Vaswani in 2012.

From 2013 to 2017, Vaswani filed false tax forms with the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services that underreported his taxes due, prosecutors said. Malik conspired with Vaswani through means, including forming a Pennsylvania company, Discount Deals, to acquire smokeless tobacco that was imported into Connecticut without payment of taxes, prosecutors said.

The State of Connecticut was defrauded of $5.8 million in taxes through this scheme, prosecutors said.

Vaswani and Malik were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to violate the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act. That offense that carries a maximum of five years in prison.

The indictment also charges Vaswani with 12 counts and Malik with four counts of wire fraud, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison on each count.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services, Criminal Investigations Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer R. Laraia and Michael S. McGarry.

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