Three veterans criminally charged in connection with sale of cigarettes

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Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office approved criminal charges against multiple veterans who formerly lived at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans for the sale of non-taxed cigarettes.

In August, we reported four Grand Rapids Home for Veterans members were involuntarily discharged from the facility after selling hundreds of packs cigarettes inside the home.

Court records from Grand Rapids District Court show three of the men are being charged with violations of the Tobacco Products Tax Act which are felony crimes. The names listed in court documents are Jeff Bowman, Ken Hammond and Tony Moore.

This summer the Michigan State Police confirmed it was requested to investigate allegations veterans at the Home for Veterans were selling cigarettes that hadn't been purchased in the state.  

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Related: Veterans face eviction, possibly prosecution over cigarette sales

The MSP turned the investigation over to Schuette's office to determine whether a crime had been committed.

One of the veterans involved admitted to us this summer a number of members had an operation selling cigarettes inside the facility--hundreds packs of cigarettes to other members in the building. The veteran admitted to purchasing the cigarettes "off of a reservation, an Indian reservation in New York."

In Michigan, it's illegal to sell a tobacco product to another person for resale without being licensed.

The 13 Watchdog team obtained a document in August showing the dismissal of Hammond from the facility for "the illegal selling of cigarettes while residing at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans."

A news release issued by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) indicated in the fall of 2016, administrators at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans became aware of the possibility that a member or members of the home may have been selling non-taxed cigarettes.

The MVAA indicates that after an internal review, a decision was made to warn those involved of what the rules of the home were and of state laws related to the sale of tobacco products.

Based on further information, in January 2017, staff at the Home for Veterans contacted law enforcement, which led to the MSP investigation.

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