A Salina man was among eight federally indicted last week for allegedly defrauding Oklahoma and its Indian tribes of millions of dollars in cigarette tax revenue.
Jeremy Wayne Hooker, 33, operates Pipestone Smoke Shop in Vinita. He is accused of buying and selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of low-tax cigarettes and shipping them to the Tulsa area.
Joplin millionaire Gary Hall, 66, is accused of organizing the $25 million tax scheme.
Hall is the owner of Sunflower Supply Company in Galena, Kan.
In addition, the self-made millionaire owns numerous other business ventures - including Discount Tobacco Warehouse of Joplin, National Tobacco Distributors, Rebel Industries, Halls Collection, Shawnee Tobacco Smoke Shop and Sunflower Aircraft.
The arrests and indictments come after a three-year investigation revealed the methods and delivery route used by Hall's companies to ship low-tax cigarettes into Tulsa-area smoke shops licensed by the Creek, Osage and Cherokee nations.
The indictment alleges that beginning in January 2005 and continuing through May 7, 2007, the defendants conspired to defraud the state of Oklahoma and Indian tribes that share in the proceeds of cigarette taxes.
Low-tax cigarettes bear a 6-cent tax stamp and by law can be sold along the Oklahoma border by smoke shops in competition with low-tax states.
The indictment alleges that Hooker and the other defendants were funneling low-tax cigarettes into the Tulsa area - the tax rate in Tulsa is $1.06 per pack.
The charges against Hooker, Hall and six other defendants conspiracy to divert cigarettes, money laundering, mail fraud, wire fraud (cigarette orders), wire fraud (money transfer), interstate transportation in aid of racketeering, and violation of the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act.