S.J. supermarket owner sentenced in cigarette trafficking

Muhammad Shafique believed in diversification. The 44-year-old South Jersey businessman owned a supermarket in Pleasantville. But a variety of illegal enterprises fueled his real profits. Shafique, of Egg Harbor Township, was sentenced in federal court in Camden today to 57 months in prison for those schemes.

From June 2010 to February 2012, Shafique trafficked millions of dollars in contraband cigarettes that defrauded New Jersey of more than $4 million in tax revenues. Prosecutors said he purchased 150,000 of cases of the untaxed smokes from undercover officers for resale in New Jersey. With the proceeds from the cigarettes, he bought the Get & Go Supermarket and used its bank account to launder the remaining cash, said federal prosecutors.

As a sideline, Shafique participated in a conspiracy to steal identities to obtain mortgage loans on properties in New York. Shafique and his co-conpirators rooked a number of banks and lenders out of nearly $1.5 million, prosecutors said.

In addition to the prison sentence, Shafique was ordered to serve five years of supervised released and pay resititution of $4,046,382 for the cigarette trafficking and $1,405,000 for the mortgage fraud.