LOS ANGELES — On December 22, 2023, Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) secured a 32-month prison sentence against Los Angeles tobacco distributor Sadiq Mohammed, who pled guilty to running a $3 million tax evasion scheme against the State of California.
The investigation, which was conducted by DOJ’s Tax Recovery in the Underground Economy (TRUE) Task Force, uncovered that between 2017 and 2018, Mohammed filed tax returns that underreported sales from L.A. Trading and Distribution, Inc., his tobacco distribution business located in the Los Angeles area. Mohammed imported tobacco products from Florida and Illinois and falsely claimed they were interstate sales to unlawfully evade California’s excise taxes, which are required for out-of-state products.
“When individuals defraud and steal from taxpayers and the State of California, we will hold them accountable,” said Attorney General Bonta. “I thank and commend DOJ’s prosecutors and special agents who worked hard on this case to bring Sadiq Mohammed to justice, and I extend my gratitude to our state and federal partners for their assistance in apprehending him and bringing him back to California for prosecution.”
As a result of the investigation, DOJ secured a warrant for Mohammed’s arrest in 2022. Mohammed pled guilty to tobacco excise tax evasion on September 23, 2023. On December 20, 2023, after being in custody since the 2022 arrest, he was sentenced to 32 months in state prison and ordered to pay more than $3.04 million in restitution.
TRUE is an important measure to support the state’s efforts to combat and deter underground economic crimes in California. TRUE includes attorneys, investigators, and special agents from the DOJ’s Special Prosecutions Section and Bureau of Investigation, as well as the Franchise Tax Board, Employee Development Department, as well as the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration. Through multiagency collaboration, the TRUE Task Force agencies work to combat wage theft, tax evasion, and other crimes in the underground economy.
A copy of the charges against Mohammed can be found here.