Baltimore-Area Man Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison After Pleading Guilty to Tax Evasion and Drug Conspiracy

A Maryland man was sentenced yesterday to 15 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to tax evasion and conspiracy to import, transport and sell drug paraphernalia. Sean Weston, of Windsor Mill, was also ordered to make restitution to the United States.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from January 2015 through at least July 2019, Weston operated the Northwest Variety Store in Baltimore, where he sold empty gel capsules, colored plastic tops, dust masks, metal strainers, electric weighing scales, razor blades and mannite and quinine, which are used as cutting agents in illicit drugs. Weston admitted that he purchased from China hundreds of kilograms of quinine, a prescription medication for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria. Importing quinine for any other use is illegal. Weston concealed his purchases by requesting his foreign supplier label the quinine something else, such as “beta glucan.”

For tax years 2016 through 2018, Weston did not file federal income tax returns with the IRS. In addition to owning the Northwest Variety Store – which had significant profits during that time – Weston was on the payroll of a water treatment facility. To conceal his income from the IRS, Weston dealt substantially in cash. For example, from 2016 through 2018, Weston paid $29,835 in cash for the monthly rent of the Northwest Variety Store and deposited $352,026 in cash into two personal bank accounts.

In 2016, Weston made a $25,000 cash down payment for the purchase of a 2013 Bentley Continental GT – worth approximately $117,000 – and signed a credit application stating that his annual income was $180,000. In May 2017, Weston made a $15,000 cash down payment on the lease of a 2014 Bentley Flying Spur, worth more than $139,000. To obtain the lease, Weston had an individual prepare his tax return for 2016 that reflected a purported gross income of $358,984. Weston submitted the return to the car dealership but did not file it with the IRS.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland made the announcement.

IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration are investigating the case as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), with the assistance from the Baltimore Police Department.

Senior Litigation Counsel John Sullivan of the Tax Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth S. Clark for the District of Maryland are prosecuting the case.

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