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Written by Staff

Friday, 29 August 2008

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Tags:
cubanhabanos
tobacco legislation

A Port Charlotte Florida man pleaded guilty Wednesday to importing Cuban cigars and rum - faces 20 Years in Prison

Douglas Hiner, 68, agreed to plead guilty to one count of importing the illegal goods. According to an indictment filed in May, the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Patrol agents intercepted Hiner's 53-foot sailboat in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties that was carrying 361 Cuban cigars and cigarettes. They also found a storage facility in North Fort Myers that Hiner used to store the cigars and rum.

Cuban exports are illegal in the United States because of the country's trade embargo with the communist country.

Hiner faces up to 20 years in prison and five years on supervised release, though a sentencing date hasn’t been set.

Hiner's case is the second prosecuted by U.S. attorneys in Fort Myers this year.

In a separate case, Martin Sengseis, 43, was indicted on a charge of importing Cuban cigars and rum and in June he pleaded guilty to that charge. Also indicted was John Genaro, but charges against him were dropped by prosecutors.

On Feb. 21, 2008, according to a federal complaint, Sengseis and Genaro were aboard a 51-foot sailboat that ran aground near Fort Myers Beach.

When Coast Guard agents searched the boat, they found 364 boxes of Cuban cigars, 45 bottles of Cuban rum, 30 pounds of Cuban coffee and 100 cartons of Cuban cigarettes, according to court documents.

In both cases, the men allegedly traveled from Havana, Cuba to Florida's west coast.

In both cases, the men allegedly traveled from Havana, Cuba to Florida's west coast.




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