Ala. businessmen pay $1.4 million for tax evasion

Scales of justice and gavel

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Two Birmingham businessmen have received six months jail sentences and paid $1.4 million in restitution for evading state tobacco taxes.

Attorney General Luther Strange and state Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee announced Tuesday that Farhad Jiwani and Allaudin Merchant were sentenced after pleading guilty to five counts of tobacco count evasion and five counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, which involved documents they filed with the state Revenue Department.

The two men own Joey Enterprises, which does business as Northstar Wholesale in Birmingham. It distributes goods to retail stores.

In addition to the six-month sentences and restitution, they must also serve five years on supervised probation.

This is the second major tobacco tax case investigated by the Revenue Department and attorney general. Another wholesale distributor, Shamim Ahmed Khan, pleaded guilty in Shelby County in 2012. He got a six-month sentence and was ordered to pay $1.7 million in restitution.

The restitution goes to the state General Fund.

“Our prosecutions of these cases send a strong warning that tax evasion will not be tolerated,” the attorney general said.

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