WKU Public Radio News Staff
Wed January 19, 2005
Cigarette Smuggling Plea In Louisville
Louisville, KY – A Louisville businessman has pleaded guilty to selling cigarettes to Chicago customers who were able to avoid paying cigarette taxes of more than $1.00 a pack.
46 year old Joseph Melton III agreed to forfeit $2 million. It's the amount he acknowledges was his proceeds from the unlawful activities outlined in a federal information document.
Melton pleaded guilty Tuesday in U. S. District Court in Louisville to conspiracy to engage in contrband cigarette trafficking and conspiracy to launder money from 1994 to 2001.
Court records show he's already paid $1.1 million that he agreed to forfeit. Chief U. S. District Judge John Heyburn will sentence Melton on April 18th. The charges carry a maximum 25 years in prison and fines of up to $750,000.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, it's possible Melton could receive no jail time.