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Virginia store owners sentenced to 24 months for conspiring to structure $10 million obtained from illicit cigarette sales

RICHMOND, Va. — Two Virginia cigarette retail store owners were each sentenced Friday to 24 months for conspiring to structure more than $10 million in cash transactions for the purpose of preventing banking institutions from reporting those transactions to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The sentencing follows an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C., IRS's Criminal Investigations and the Tobacco Enforcement Unit of the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia.

Jayant Khare, 51, and Loveleen Khare, 56, both of Powhatan, Va., owned and operated two cigarette retail stores known as Cigarettes America Plus and Cigarettes America at Westchester.

Both admitted that from October 2011 to December 2012, they conspired to structure over $10 million in U.S. currency by splitting up cash deposits into accounts maintained at six banks, all in an effort to prevent the banks from filing Currency Transaction Reports with the IRS, which must be filed on cash deposits of $10,000 or greater.

The structured cash was obtained by selling large quantities of cigarettes to out-of-state individuals who were known to be transporting the cigarettes to locations outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia for resale as contraband cigarettes. The sales took place at the Khares' personal residence and from the back door of the retail stores.