Question were referred to the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
Police activity outside Highland liquor store. Photo by Kelly Bridges/caption]
July 20, 2018-A large police presence has been reported outisde Liquor Stop, 9218 Indianapolis Boulevard, Highland. The police activity began earlier this morning and has lasted approximately 2 hours at this point. Lake County Sheriff Spokesperson Emiliano Perez referred all inquiries to the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Calls to that office have not yet been returned, however, there has been an ongoing, multi-state investigation into the selling of Indiana alcohol in Illinois. Due to the tremendous difference in retail sales tax, Illinois vendors will sometimes purchase liquor at a retail store in Indiana for resale at an Illinois store. The Illinois Attorney General would have jurisdiction to investigate interstate transportation of alcohol. We have not yet received a response from AG Madigan’s office.
A white box truck and its occupants seem to be a focus of the investigation. Police vehicles can be seen behind the truck, blocking its exit. Additionally, two men can be seen with their hands against the fence in the upper right of the photo, above.
In September 2017, then Acting US Attorney Clifford Johnson announced that they were seeking forfeiture of over $1M from the owners of Columbia Liquors in Hammond. In that case the civil Complaint alleged:
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.
The civil complaint in the Columbia Liquors case stated “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 Columbia Liquors case is a civil matter, and no criminal actions were charged. It is important to note that an investigation involving police can sometimes be completely civil in nature. Treasury and revenue agents may ask for police assistance in carrying out civil functions. The government bears the burden of proving wrongful actions in civil cases and an investigation does not imply any wrongful activity. No wrongful activity has been alleged in this case.