LAS VEGAS -- The owner of a North Las Vegas convenience store pleaded guilty Tuesday to purchasing thousands of cigarettes that he believed were stolen and untaxed with the intent of reselling them, Nevada's U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said.
Amer "Sunny" Ramo, 55, owner of Sunny Market at 600 W. Lake Mead Boulevard, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro to one count of receipt, possession and purchase of contraband cigarettes. Ramo is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 22.
His plea agreement requires that he abandon his gambling, liquor, and other business licenses in Clark County, and sell the market and two other stores he operates in the county, Sunny Market II and JB Liquors. Ramo also faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the plea agreement, Metro Police officers on Feb. 28 received information that Ramo was purchasing items such as liquor and cigarettes from individuals who had stolen them from local retail establishments. In May and June, a Metro detective made three undercover sales to Ramo at Sunny Market, including liquor, baby formula, and cigarettes that the detective told Ramo had been stolen. On July 11, Ramo purchased 12,000 cigarettes from the undercover detective for $300, and on July 25 purchased 36,000 cigarettes from the detective for $750.
On both occasions, Ramo was told the cigarettes were stolen. The cigarettes also lacked stamps evidencing the payment of taxes required under state law. Immediately after the last sale, state and federal search warrants were executed at Sunny Market, where law enforcement officials recovered cigarettes that had been sold to Ramo by the undercover detective.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Metro Police and the North Las Vegas Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Brown.