Gas Station and Tobacco Store Owner Daniel K. Appiah Pleads Guilty to Cigarette Trafficking

(STL.News) – A Lorton man pleaded guilty yesterday to participating in a conspiracy to traffic millions of dollars in contraband cigarettes.

According to court documents, Daniel K. Appiah, 65, owned and operated two companies that sold cigarettes between 2007 and 2020: a gas station and convenience store in Fredericksburg; and a tobacco store in Woodbridge.  During the operation of his companies, Appiah received for each of them a “Certificate of Registration for the Collection of Virginia Sales and Use Tax,” which exempted Appiah from paying the Virginia sales and use tax when making business purchases.  He thereafter opened business memberships at various wholesale clubs and with wholesale cigarette distributors in Virginia, and subsequently used those business memberships to make tax-free purchases of more than $7.2 million worth of Virginia-stamped cigarettes between 2015 and 2018.  Appiah then sold and distributed more than $5.1 million worth of those cigarettes to cigarette traffickers whom he knew intended to smuggle those Virginia-stamped cigarettes out of the Commonwealth for re-sale as contraband cigarettes on the black market.

Appiah pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes.  He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on November 6.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Jesse R. Fong, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Washington Field Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck accepted the plea.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Elliker is prosecuting the case.