Truck driver

Commercial truck driver pleads guilty to contraband tobacco at Niagara border

Commercial truck driver who smuggled a large amount of tobacco across the Niagara border, resulting in the loss of more than $ 3.9 million in tax revenue, will be given a suspended sentence .

Hamid Taghvai-Sayghalani, 58, will not have to start serving his 12-month sentence, including four months under house arrest, until he returns from vacation in Mexico, the court said on Tuesday.

The Mississauga man pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines to evading duties and taxes under the Customs Act.

The Crown and the defense presented the judge with a joint position on a suspended sentence, citing various reasons for the conviction, including Taghvai-Sayghalani’s guilty plea and lack of a criminal record.

“Obviously, the amount of taxes and duties evaded calls for an important sanction to denounce and deter other like-minded people,” prosecutor Darren Anger told the judge.

“Joint submission balances whistleblowing and deterrents with the reality of where we are in this lawsuit.”

Judge Cameron Watson accepted the joint submission, as well as the accused’s request that the sentence not be imposed until December so as not to interfere with his upcoming vacation.

In July 2018, the court heard, Taghvai-Sayghalani crossed the Peace Bridge and told Canada Border Services Agency officers that he was carrying a load of lighting products with an estimated weight of 110 kilograms.

An officer noticed that the trailer appeared to be abnormally low to have a cargo of only 110 kg.

“Once the rear doors opened, officers immediately detected the smell of tobacco from the trailer,” Anger said.

Four pallets of lighting products were found in the trailer, as well as 90 boxes filled with more than 11,100 kg of tobacco.

The court heard that the estimated amount of federal and provincial taxes evaded as a result of the smuggling operation was over $ 3.9 million.

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