UPDATE: Republic National Distribution Company (RNDC) has issued a statement regarding this. In part…
“RNDC is extremely disappointed to learn that the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland has chosen to take this action,” stated Tom Cole, President and CEO of RNDC. “We have worked diligently with the U.S. Attorney’s office since first learning about the investigation in 2012, and have seen no evidence to support their version of the facts. RNDC emphatically denies these allegations and looks forward to our day in court where we will demonstrate that the prosecutors’ accusations are based on erroneous assumptions, unsubstantiated theories, and represent an unprecedented attempt at federal government overreach.”
A federal grand jury indicted Republic National Distribution Company, LLC, and its employees, Eugene Gerzsenyi, age 52, of Glen Burnie, Maryland; Jason Lockerman, age 38, of Bel Air, Maryland; and Lisa Robbins, age 55, of Woodbine, Maryland, today on charges arising from a scheme to defraud the state and city of New York, and registered New York liquor wholesalers. Specifically, the indictment alleges that the defendants transferred and moved liquor from Maryland, where the state excise tax rate for liquor was approximately $1.50 per gallon, to New York, where the state excise tax for liquor was approximately $7.44 per gallon, for retail sale.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Assistant Administrator for Field Operations Tom Crone, U.S. Treasury Department, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB); and Special Agent in Charge Thomas Jankowski of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
According to the indictment Republic National Distribution Company, LLC, (RNDC), which has offices in Jessup, Maryland, is a wholesale distributor of liquor in Maryland and elsewhere in the United States. Eugene Gerzsenyi was the Assistant Director of Operations for RNDC, Jason Lockerman was a salesman for RNDC and Lisa Robbins was an accounting manager. According to the indictment, any wholesaler transferring or distributing liquor for retail sale in Maryland, or in New York, was required to register with the state, and to provide monthly reports of the quantities of liquor transferred or distributed for retail sale in the state. RNDC was registered in Maryland and sold and delivered liquor to Cecil County retailers, including liquor stores, bars and restaurants.
The 23 count indictment alleges that from at least June 2009 through June 2012, a number of New York liquor retailers communicated with several retail liquor stores in Cecil County to order cases of wine and liquor. People working at the Cecil County retailers then passed the orders to RNDC though salesmen, including Lockerman. The indictment alleges that Lockerman and the other RNDC salesmen knew that the liquor was intended for retail sale in New York, and they transmitted those orders to RNDC to be filled. According to the indictment, RNDC delivered the ordered liquor to the Cecil County retailers, where it was held for the New York retailers. The New York retailers and their agents then picked up and transported the liquor to New York, where it was sold to customers without the New York excise taxes being paid.
The indictment alleges that RNDC, Robbins, Gerzsenyi, and Lockerman facilitated the payment to RNDC for liquor that was moved from RNDC, through the Cecil County retailers to the New York retailers and their agents. Specifically, RNDC submitted invoices to the Cecil County retailers that included the amounts owed to RNDC for the liquor that had been delivered to the New York retailers and their agents. The New York retailers paid the Cecil County retailers in cash, which the Cecil County retailers deposited into their business accounts. The Cecil County retailers then paid RNDC by check.
The indictment alleges that RNDC, the New York retailers, and the Maryland retailers, did not register as liquor wholesalers or distributors in New York; did not provide monthly reports of the quantities of liquor shipped into New York for retail sale; and did not pay New York excise taxes. In addition, RNDC allegedly filed false reports to the Maryland State Comptroller’s Office, indicating that all liquor sold to the Cecil County retailers was intended for resale in Maryland.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of all proceeds traceable to the scheme, including a money judgment of at least $9 million.
If convicted, the company and the individual defendants face a $250,000 fine, and the individual defendants also face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, for wire fraud conspiracy and each of four counts of wire fraud. If convicted of the money laundering counts, the indictment seeks forfeiture from RNDC of the funds involved in those offenses. No initial appearance has been scheduled for the defendants.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended HSI Baltimore, TTB, and IRS-Criminal Investigation for their work in the investigation and thanked the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Criminal Investigations Division for its assistance. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tamera L. Fine and Richard C. Kay, who are prosecuting the case.