Lehigh Valley

Traffic stop turns up about 170,000 untaxed cigarettes

Driver was headed from North Carolina to NYC

U. SAUCON TWP., Pa. - Pennsylvania State Police allege a North Carolina man was caught with about 174,000 untaxed cigarettes in the back of his car early Friday morning along I-78 in Lehigh County.

Authorities charged Abd Alodat, of Winston, N.C., with a felony and misdemeanor count of possession of untaxed cigarettes, following a traffic stop in Upper Saucon Township. District Judge Patricia Engler arraigned the 42-year-old late Friday morning, setting bail at $200,000.

A state police trooper spotted Alodat’s Ford Taurus driving east on Interstate 78 shortly before 1:30 a.m. in the area of mile marker 62. Authorities allege Alodat was speeding in the left lane and not passing other motorists.

When the trooper approached the vehicle, he allegedly noticed several cardboard boxes in the back seat partially covered by jackets and blankets, according to court records. He also allegedly spotted a cardboard box partially covered by a tan jacket on the front passenger floor, a pack of Marlboros on the passenger seat with no tax stamp and several cartons of Newports behind the passenger seat.

Police said Alodat appeared nervous with his hands shaking as he handed over his ID and stammering through his answers to the trooper’s questions.

Alodat told police he was driving from North Carolina to pick up his cousin at JFK Airport in New York City, but then later changed his story. When asked what was in the boxes, he allegedly reported it was “stuff for his cousin,” according to records.

Authorities indicate in court records that the situation had all the hallmarks of someone hauling untaxed cigarettes. North Carolina is a common source for untaxed smokes, while New York City is a common destination, according to police.

Police towed the car and later searched it, finding 870 cartons of smokes or 174,000 untaxed cigarettes.

Alodat failed to post bail following his arraignment and was sent to Lehigh County Prison to await a preliminary hearing tentatively scheduled for Nov. 17.

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