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503-378-6002 or Michael.C.Kron@doj.state.or.us
About Ellen F. Rosenblum
Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the arrest of William "Bill" Downer, Mill City resident and ex-mayor. Downer, the owner/operator of the Smokes "N" Spirits retail shop in Mill City, was arrested on charges related to tobacco tax evasion. On August 12, 2004, a Marion County Grand Jury returned a forty-eight count criminal indictment against Downer for crimes including the unlawful distribution of tobacco products, falsifying tobacco sales invoices, and money laundering.
The indictment alleges that Downer purchased large quantities of chewing tobacco from a smoke shop in the state of Washington. The chewing tobacco was then resold, unlawfully, in Oregon. Based on Downer's representations, those who purchased chewing tobacco from him believed he had reported and paid the tobacco tax as required by law. However, Department of Revenue records appear to demonstrate otherwise. State officials believe Downer cheated the State of Oregon out of more than $100,000 in taxes since 1997.
Downer's illegal activities were discovered and investigated by the Tobacco Tax Compliance Task Force, a cooperative effort between the Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR), Oregon State Police (OSP) and the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ). Downer is currently being held in the Marion County jail on $470,000 bail.
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