Two liquor store owners were arrested on charges that including transporting beverages to Delaware in an attempt to evade taxes. More than $100,000 was found at the home of one of the suspects.
The Delaware Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) received information that alcoholic beverages were being illegally transported from Maryland into Delaware in order to avoid state excise taxes, a release stated.
The tax had already been paid in Maryland, which has alcohol taxes that are comparable to Delaware’s rates. However, retail shipments are not legal unless a Delaware tax had been paid.
On Dec. 1st, agents set up surveillance near the state line with assistance from officers of the Maryland State Comptroller’s Office. The liquor was transported into Delaware and unloaded at a residence on the 100 block of Labrador Lane, Bear. The driver of the vehicle, Robert Connell Jr., 58, of Galena, MD, was arrested by DATE agents and his vehicle was seized. Connell is an owner of Pips Liquors of Chestertown, MD.
Fortunato Cristiano, 47, owner of Four Seasons Liquors located near Newark and also a part owner of Pip’s Liquors in Chestertown, Md, resides on the 100 block of Labrador Lane.
DATE agents executed a search warrant Cristiano’s residence. Agents seized 117 cases of untaxed liquor, nearly $106,000 in cash, various business records, a Glock 9mm pistol, and a small amount of marijuana. Both Cristiano and Connell were charged and arraigned at J.P. Court #11 where they were later released on a $21,650 and $1,600 unsecured bond respectfully pending a future court date.