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New York Man Pleads Guilty to Tax Charge in Illegal Vehicle Importation Scheme

On November 21, 2011, Gar Loon Lee a.k.a. John Lee pled guilty in U.S. District Court, Burlington, Vermont, to a one count Information charging Mr. Lee with receiving significant gross income from the illegal importation of four passenger vehicles from Canada to Vermont in 2009. 

Vehicles imported into the U.S. must comply with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) prior to being offered for sale and must be imported by or through a Registered Importer that is recognized by NHTSA.  Mr.  Lee, who was neither a Registered Importer nor worked through a Register Importer, purchased four Nissan automobiles in Canada and illegally entered Vermont at various ports of entry during 2009.  Mr. Lee failed to declare the vehicles as imports and did not complete the required importation documents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  

At different times, Mr. Lee used borrowed New York dealer plates or registered the vehicles in Vermont prior to selling the vehicles in the U.S.  All four vehicles did not comply with the FMVSS or emissions standards imposed by EPA regulations. 

As a part of the plea agreement, Mr. Lee is required to pay a $25,000 fine plus his outstanding tax liability.  Sentencing is scheduled for March 19, 2012. 

This investigation was conducted jointly with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Burlington, Vermont.