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April 20, 2014

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Convenience store owner pleads guilty to dealing stolen cigarettes

The owner of a North Las Vegas convenience store, which in July was the site of a multi-agency law enforcement sting, has pleaded guilty to purchasing thousands of contraband cigarettes, Nevada’s U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden announced Tuesday.

Amer “Sunny” Ramo, 55, owner of Sunny Market, 600 W. Lake Mead Blvd., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro to one count of receipt, possession and purchase of contraband cigarettes. Ramo’s sentencing was scheduled for Feb. 22.

Ramo faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, officials said. As part of his plea agreement, he must abandon his gambling, liquor and other business licenses in Clark County and sell the three stores he operates, including Sunny Market.

Events leading to Ramo’s arrest this summer began in late February when Metro Police received a tip indicating Ramo was purchasing liquor and cigarettes that had been stolen from other local retailers, according to the plea agreement.

A Metro detective made three undercover sales to Ramo in May and June at Sunny Market. The detective told Ramo the items, which included liquor, baby formula and cigarettes, had been stolen.

In July, Ramo made two more purchases from the undercover detective, paying $300 for 12,000 cigarettes and then $750 for 36,000 cigarettes, according to the plea agreement. The detective had told Ramo the cigarettes, which lacked stamps proving payment of taxes, had been stolen.

Ramo’s arrest in July coincided with others under similar circumstances across the Las Vegas Valley. Authorities said the contraband cases troubled them, in part, because of juveniles’ involvement in the initial shoplifting of merchandise that wound up for sale elsewhere.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Metro Police and North Las Vegas Police investigated Ramo’s case, officials said.

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