A Prince George’s County restaurant owner pleaded guilty to conspiracy and extortion in a scheme involving the transportation of untaxed cigarettes, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore.
Chun Chen, 34, of Bowie, Md., was named in charging documents as one of seven co-conspirators in the scheme. He is the first of the defendants to enter a guilty plea, Marcia Murphy said. The other six pleaded not guilty in November.
Chen faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will also forfeit the $2.66 million in lost tax revenue the state attributes to his dealings.
Since July 2009 Chen, also known as Eddy Chen, bought untaxed cigarettes from two co-conspirators, including one Prince George’s County Police officer, according to the plea agreement. Chong Chin Kim, a Prince George’s Police officer for more than 16 years, also bought untaxed cigarettes, the agreement said.
Former Prince George’s Police officer Richard Delabrer and Amir Milijkovic bought cigarettes without state tax stamps on the cartons — making them contraband — from an undercover FBI agent, then re-sold them to Chen and Kim, among others, the document said.
Delabrer transported or aided in the transport of the untaxed cigarettes from Virginia to Maryland, the agreement said. Sales tax on cigarettes in Virginia is $0.30 a pack; in Maryland, it is $2 a pack. After buying from Delabrer and Milijkovic, Chen would then sell those cigarettes to people in New York, where taxes on cigarettes exceed $8 per pack, the agreement said.
Chen and others listed in charging documents paid Prince George’s County Police officers to help ensure safe transport, the agreement said.
- By Maryland Newsline’s Alexander Pyles