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Two men sentenced in cigarette fraud scheme

December 22, 2010

Two Glendale men were sentenced on Monday to 366 days in federal prison for their roles in cigarette trafficking scheme. Grigor Chivitchian, 57, and Sarkis Mkrtchyan, 47, were also ordered to pay $280,000 in restitution to the state.

The two men pleaded guilty to federal contraband trafficking and conspiracy charges in September, according to announcement from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The investigation that started in 2007 found that Mkrtchyan and Chivitchian were not authorized to purchase or possess untaxed cigarettes in California.

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The two men were also ordered to serve three years of probation.

By avoiding interstate taxes and reporting, smugglers can make millions that go unreported.

Another Glendale man sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison in April for cigarette fraud and tax evasion in 2008.

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.

Djeredjian was also ordered to pay back more than $6.4 million. And upon completing his prison sentence, Djeredjian will have three years of parole.

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