Fraud nets man 7 years

He deprived state of $3.2M by smuggling cigarettes from North Carolina.

By Max Zimbert


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Glendale resident who was convicted of cigarette fraud and tax evasion in
April 2008 was sentenced Wednesday to more than seven years in a federal
prison.

Between January 2002 and June 2005, Avedis Djeredjian, now 41, bought more
than 367,960 cartons of cigarettes from North Carolina without adequate tax
stamps from California regulators, depriving California of $3.2 million in
tax revenue, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

U.S. District Court Judge George King also ordered Djeredjian to pay back
more than $6.4 million. And upon completing his prison sentence, Djeredjian
will have three years of parole.

"With the outcome of this case, it should be very clear that there is no
state line that will insulate illegal traffickers of cigarettes from our
vigorous investigation and prosecution," Zebedee Graham, the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms special agent in charge, said in a statement.

In 2008, the jury did not convict Djeredjian's wife, Carmen Badrian, or
Roobik Ohaniansaki, whom authorities had tried to tie to the scheme. Both
lived in Glendale at the time.

John Torres, the special agent in charge of the Los Angeles Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the sentencing vindicated the
inter-state and undercover investigation.

"This sentencing clearly shows that trafficking in contraband tobacco
products will not be tolerated," he said in an e-mail. "This is a great
conclusion."

George Holding, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina,
said in a statement that the verdict upheld the federal government's role to
ensure that people do not thwart state taxing authority.


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