Three Individuals Fined $184,650 for Contraband Tobacco

    Ontario's Tough Tobacco Tax Laws at Work

    TORONTO, Jan. 28 /CNW/ - Three people were convicted and fined a total of
$184,650 for Tobacco Tax Act offences in the Ontario Court of Justice in
Cornwall on January 8, 2009.

    The following individuals were found guilty of charges laid by the
Ministry of Revenue's Special Investigations Branch:

    -   Stephane Bazinet of Cornwall pleaded guilty to possession of 199,800
        unmarked cigarettes for the purpose of sale. The charges were laid
        following an incident on April 16, 2008, when the Ontario Provincial
        Police (OPP), working with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA),
        pulled over a vehicle and found the unmarked cigarettes. Bazinet was
        fined $50,000 and must also pay $12,500 to the Victims' Justice Fund.

    -   Michael Tessier of Cornwall pleaded guilty to possession of 72,000
        unmarked cigarettes for the purpose of sale and to possession of
        3,800 cigars and 4,080 grams of other tobacco without proof of tax
        paid. The OPP, working with the CBSA, stopped a vehicle on April 14,
        2008 and found the contraband tobacco products. The court imposed a
        fine of $23,000. Tessier must also pay $5,750 to the Victims' Justice

    -   Blossom Stacey of Kahnawake, Quebec was found guilty of possession of
        300,000 unmarked cigarettes for the purpose of sale. The Special
        Investigations Branch and CBSA were involved in a joint surveillance
        operation on November 28, 2007. The vehicle driven by Stacey was
        stopped with the assistance of the OPP and the unmarked cigarettes
        were discovered. The court fined Stacey $111,650. She must also pay
        the Victims' Justice Fund surcharge of $27,912.

    In all three cases, the cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products
were seized and later forfeited to the Province.
    The Government of Ontario has many enforcement measures to discourage the
sale of contraband tobacco. The Tobacco Tax Act has been strengthened with new
inspection and seizure powers, new offence provisions, increased fines, jail
provisions, civil penalties, and provisions that permit tax investigators to
share intelligence information with police and other agencies that enforce
tobacco-related laws. Through steps taken in four of the last five Ontario
Budgets, the government has strengthened enforcement against the illegal
manufacture and sale of tobacco products.
    In Ontario over the past two years, approximately 58.1 million contraband
cigarettes have been seized by ministry investigators and inspectors.


    Read about Tobacco Tax

    Learn more about Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy

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For further information:

For further information: Media Inquiries, Scott Blodgett: (416)
325-0324; Public Inquiries: 1-866-668-8297

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