New York cigarette tax probes called weak, sloppy

New York’s inspector general says state sting operations aimed at the black market in cigarettes had
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New York’s inspector general says state sting operations aimed at the black market in cigarettes had such weak investigative protocols and financial controls that money went missing and prosecutions were dismissed.

Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott says the Department of Taxation and Finance couldn’t account for $160,000 of lost cash from covert sales in one case. She says investigators brought their own semi-automatic rifles to out-of-state operations, informants were paid by checks made out to cash and investigators used cameras ineffectively, failing to record transactions.

According to her report Monday, the department has ceased the covert stings that continued from 2002 to 2010 and all managers involved have left or were relieved of duties.

Tax officials have begun coordinating law enforcement with state police and issued new policies on informants.

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