Tax probe leads to discovery of bootleg goods

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NAUGATUCK — An investigation into the sale of untaxed cigarettes at a Naugatuck convenience store led to the arrest of a Waterbury man for selling counterfeit items.

On Aug. 1 Naugatuck police assisted officers from the state Department of Revenue Services as they checked into whether untaxed cigarettes were being sold out of the Family Market at 129 Rubber Ave. The market is owned by 48-year-old Mohammad Alam of 46 Proctor St., Waterbury.

Untaxed cigarettes are cigarettes that were purchased illegally so state taxes aren’t levied on them.

Sarah Kaufman, spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue Services, said the store was selling untaxed packs of cigarettes with fake Connecticut tax stamps on the bottom. Officers seized 72 packs of cigarettes along with 107 loose single cigarettes, according to Naugatuck police Officer Michael Favale.

It is illegal to sell single cigarettes, Kaufman said. Alam was charged with possession and sale of untaxed cigarettes by the state, she said. These charges were resolved Aug. 17, according to Kaufman, and Alam paid a $150 fine. She declined to say how the state became aware that the store was selling untaxed cigarettes.

The investigation also uncovered that Alam was selling banned and counterfeit items, Favale said. Police seized 263 bootleg DVDs and CDs, nine fake iPhones, along with jars of synthetic marijuana products.

Several illegal large knifes were also found in the backroom and confiscated, Favale said. When officers asked Alam if he was selling the knifes he shrugged and didn’t answer, Favale said.

Naugatuck police served Alam with an arrest warrant Sept. 7 charging him with illegal use of counterfeit marking and criminal simulation. Alam was released on a $5,000 non-surety bond and given a Sept. 14 to appear in Waterbury Superior Court.