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Pikesville man pleads guilty in contraband cigarette case

A Pikesville man is facing up to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty Monday to conspiracy to buy and sell more than $6.6 million worth of contraband cigarettes.

Ilgar Rakhamimov, 41, will be sentenced in U.S. District Court in June.

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Federal prosecutors allege Rakhamimov was among nearly a dozen people involved in an Azerbaijani family crime ring dubbed the "Yusufov organization." He's the seventh person to be found guilty in federal court on charges related to the operation.

Prosecutors said Ilgar Rakhamimov worked with Elmar Rakhamimov to buy contraband cigarettes without paying taxes and taking them to New York City to be sold, according to Ilgar Rakhamimov's plea agreement. Authorities tracked at least 18 purchases of cigarettes from 2011 through 2013, including one at Ilgar Rakhamimov's business, Chesapeake Monuments in Owings Mills.

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The men typically paid $30 for each carton of contraband cigarettes and sold them in Brooklyn for $41 to $45, according to the plea agreement. The money was later laundered by wiring the money overseas, disguised as business payments for medical equipment and supplies, officials said.

At his sentencing in June, Ilgar Rakhamimov will face up to five years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, he must pay a $50,000 fine.

Others in the Yusufov organization who have been found guilty of various charges include owners of Pikesville's Health-Way Pharmacy, a company that had received a loan from the Baltimore County government to finance construction of a new building anchored by the pharmacy. The loan was on track to be forgiven after the building successfully opened, but county officials say they are now reviewing it.

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