US Govt. Seeks Seizure of Over $1M from Local Liquor Store Owner

Among the forfeitures sought is $72,268.00 seized from Columbia Liquors in Hammond

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September 7, 2017-Acting United States Attorney Clifford D. Johnson is seeking civil forfeiture of over $1M which was seized from a group of liquor stores. Included in the Complaint, the Government seeks to seize $72, 268.00 from Columbia Liquors, 6417* Columbia Avenue, Hammond. According to the civil Complaint, all of the U.S. Currency for which the Government seeks an Order of Forfeiture are currently in possession of the US Secret Service in Chicago. According to the Complaint, the Government alleges that the money is proceeds of an illegal scheme to purchase liquor in Indiana and sell it in liquor stores in Illinois”

Commencing sometime prior to November 2013 and continuing through at least June
2017, Shreyas Patel and Dipteben Patel (‘the Patels”) devised a scheme to defraud or obtain
money by false or fraudulent pretenses. Specifically, the Patels, through their Indiana liquor
store, purchased large quantities of liquor and sold them to seventeen (17) Illinois liquor stores,
at least five of which they own, for subsequent retail sale thereby depriving the State of Illinois
of excise and sales taxes to which it was entitled. By selling liquor purchased without payment
of excise taxes in Illinois, the Illinois liquor-store owners, including the Patels, increased their
profits. In furtherance of the scheme to defraud or obtain money by false pretenses, the Patels
caused the use of interstate wire communications. Complaint, Paragraph 6.

According to the Complaint, Indiana charges an excise tax of $2.68 per gallon on hard liquor which is $11.05 less than is charged in Chicago and $8.37 per gallon less than is charged elsewhere in Illinois. The money which the Government seeks to seize is alleged to be the proceeds obtained by purchasing liquor in Indiana at the lower tax rate and then selling it in Illiois.

You can see the full civil Complaint By clicking here-Liquor Seizure

A Complaint merely outlines the allegations of the Government. All allegations in the Complaint must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence and no wrongdoing should be assumed based upon the filing of a Complaint.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story contained the wrong address for Columbia Liquors. We apologize for the error and thank the astute reader who brought it to our attention.

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