Man dodges prison term in cigarette probe

BARAGA, Mich. (AP) - An Upper Peninsula man involved in the sale of thousands of untaxed packs of cigarettes won't go to prison for his crime.

Detroit federal Judge David Lawson put John Varline on three years of supervised release, which is similar to probation. Prosecutors were seeking 10 months in custody Monday, which still would have been a significant break under sentencing guidelines.

In February, the 49-year-old Varline pleaded guilty to trafficking in contraband cigarettes in Baraga in the Upper Peninsula. He admitted buying more than 300,000 cigarettes from an undercover agent in 2009, although the government says the scheme was much larger.

The cigarettes were illegal because they didn't bear a stamp confirming that Michigan's $2-a-pack tax had been paid.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Collins says Varline recognizes his "grave mistake."

Published: Thu, Jun 25, 2015