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Another guilty plea in cigarette conspiracy case

ARLINGTON — Another conspirator in the Blue Stilly Smoke Shop cigarette case has pleaded guilty.

Rick Conn, a cigarette broker based in California, pleaded guilty on Friday, Jan. 15, in U.S. District Court in Seattle to conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, according to a release by the U.S. Attorney's office.

Conn was indicted in September 2009 in connection with a scheme to sell untaxed cigarettes to the Arlington-based smoke shop.

According to his plea agreement, Conn admitted to brokering a cigarette deal between Blue Stilly and Cowlitz Candy & Tobacco, in which Cowlitz Candy allegedly sold the untaxed smokes to Blue Stilly.

Conn also admitted to conspiring with owners of both tobacco shops to ship more than a million cartons of untaxed cigarettes to Blue Stilly.

Despite receiving a notice from the Washington State Liquor Control Board to cease selling the cigarettes to Blue Stilly, the conspirators continued to do so, according to the release.

The scheme helped them avoid paying more than $20 million in cigarette taxes.

Conn joins two other defendants who have pleaded guilty in connection with the case. Carol M. Silverman and Matthew Cunningham, along with Conn, are scheduled for sentencing on April 16.

Another defendant, Jay D. Silverman, is scheduled for trial in June, according to the release.

Three Stillaguamish Tribe members — along with the owner of Cowlitz Candy & Tobacco — have been sentence to prison terms for their roles in the case.

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