Gary Hall Accused Of Collusion In Cigarette Trafficking
Everyone at Hawker Beechcraft breathed a collective sigh of
relief earlier this year, when the company finally delivered its
first composite-bodied Hawker 4000 business jet.
The momentous June delivery (shown
above), to Kansas tobacco wholesaler Gary Hall, was the culmination
of a 10+ year, delayed-plagued development cycle for the aircraft
formerly known as the Hawker Horizon. Hawker Beech has since
delivered more copies of the super-midsize jet to eager
customers... and, has also enjoyed favorable headlines in trade
journals about the aircraft, following years of raised eyebrows
from the industry.
But, alas, it seems the Hawker 4000 hasn't totally escaped from
less-than-flattering headlines... though it's most certainly not
the plane's fault.
According to the Wichita Eagle, that first Hawker 4000 -- as
well as several other items of Gary Hall's personal property -- was
seized last week by the federal government, over the businessman's
alleged role in a massive tax avoidance scheme.
"If [Hall]'s acquitted, he'll get his plane back," said Jim
Cross, spokesman for the US Attorney's office in Kansas.
According to federal documents, Hall, along with seven others,
face a 43-count indictment they plotted to avoid paying $25 million
in cigarette taxes to Oklahoma, and several Indian tribes.
The seizures are the culmination of an investigation that began
in 2006, when the Kansas Highway Patrol stopped a vehicle and
discovered numerous packages of cigarettes from Oklahoma, worth
over $200,000... without required documentation and tax stamps.
Investigators soon linked Hall's Sunflower Supply Co. to the
alleged trafficking scheme... and accused Hall and his associates
of stamping cigarettes for sale at the lower tax rates Indian
tribes receive, then selling those discounted packs at
"They carried out the scheme through a variety of means,
including communications by Internet and fax and money wire
transfers," a US Department of Justice release states.
Hall's attorney Dan Monnat denies his client benefitted from the
scheme. "Gary Hall is a well-respected businessman and
philanthropist from southeast Kansas," Monnat said. "He vigorously
asserts his innocence of these accusations and welcomes a jury
trial that will make that clear."
For the moment, however, Hall's Hawker sits in a hangar at an
undisclosed location... presumably under lock and key, and possible