By Joe Beck
WOODSTOCK — Hearings in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Thursday on three cases involving defendants facing a long list of charges linked to cigarette smuggling shed new light on an extensive investigation mounted by the county Sheriff’s Office against illicit cigarette sales.
The charges against John Charles Taveras and Thaer Nimer Khashman, both of New York City, and Harvey Saul Luna, of Elizabeth, N.J., include selling more than 3,000 cigarette packages without a tax stamp and money laundering. Taveras and Khashman are also charged with several counts of racketeering.
Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp scheduled another hearing for April 30 to set a trial date for Taveras and Khashman. Hupp also scheduled another court appearance for Luna on May 28.
The dates listed in court records for the alleged offenses encompass a period from early 2011 to mid-2013. Court records contain little information from law enforcement officials about the investigation, but written filings and open court arguments from the defense and prosecution make clear that the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office played a leading role in the case.