WEST OCEAN CITY – After pleading guilty earlier this month for their roles in a vast cigarette smuggling and tax evasion conspiracy, two local men were sentenced to prison this week in New York Supreme Court.
Last October, federal officials raided the West Ocean City homes of Basel and Samir Ramadan for the second time in six years as part of a larger investigation into a vast cigarette smuggling and money-laundering investigation. The raid by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) officials, along with allied local law enforcement partners, was part of Operation Sidestep, a months-long investigation into an untaxed cigarette smuggling, money-laundering and tax evasion scheme carried out by the two local men.
On Aug. 8, both Basel and Samir Ramadan pleaded guilty to conspiracy in the fourth degree, which is classified as felony. Back in court on Monday, Basel Ramadan was sentenced to two to four years in prison as a predicate felon, while Samir Ramadan, also a predicate felon, was sentenced to one-and-a-half to three years in prison. The Ramadan brothers also forfeited $367,088 in illegal proceeds as a condition of their guilty pleas, according to the New York Attorney General’s Office.