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Sentencing delayed for tobacco scheme defendant

ABERDEEN, Miss. (AP) — The sentencing hearing has been postponed for a North Carolina man scheduled to be sentenced for his involvement in a multi-state scheme to avoid taxes and fees on tobacco sales.

Calvin Phelps, who operated four tobacco sales businesses in Mocksville, N.C., pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud, contraband cigarette trafficking and money laundering in June 2012.

John Alexander, Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that a sentencing hearing was postponed due to issues regarding restitution.

Phelps is one of a dozen or so defendants ensnared through an undercover sting operation run out of the North District of Mississippi and two Tupelo area tobacco wholesale businesses.

In this case, it was a business calling itself G-Corp in Guntown.

The defendants were accused of participation in the black-market scheme and ran tobacco products through Mississippi, where certain fees and taxes can be avoided.

Others also faked “orders” through the Tupelo businesses for tobacco products they already had on hand.

Phelps was accused of bilking the U.S., Mississippi and some other states out of more than $4 million.

In his plea agreement, he admitted reporting that certain brands of cigarettes were to be exported and consumed outside the U.S., when in fact, they were to be sold domestically.

The plea document states that from 2007 into 2009, he sold some 16,022 cases of these cigarettes for $3.19 million through G-Corp and evaded nearly $5 million in fees and taxes.

He also agreed to forfeit up to $2 million he acquired with his illegal profits.

Without the plea deal, he faced up to 43 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines, in addition to restitution.

When he pleaded guilty in 2012, his businesses were in bankruptcy proceedings in North Carolina.

Another sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date.


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