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Baker, Coakley to meet with black ministerial alliance

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STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS – MORNING EDITION – MONDAY, OCT. 20, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

BAKER, COAKLEY TO MEET WITH BLACK MINISTERIAL ALLIANCE

Candidates for governor Charlie Baker and Martha Coakley are set to address a Black Ministerial Alliance meeting on Monday, kicking off the second to last week before the Nov. 4 election. Baker and Coakley plans to meet with clergy members at the Twelfth Baptist Church, 160 Warren Street, Roxbury. Coakley’s remarks are scheduled at 10 a.m. and her campaign says they will be closed to the press. Baker’s campaign says he is set to address the alliance at 10:15 a.m. Gov. Deval Patrick plans to join Coakley at the meeting, starting a day of political activities that will take Patrick to Hyde Park, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain and Lynn. Baker over the weekend released an ad that will run on Spanish language TV channels. – M. Norton/SHNS

FEDS ESTIMATE $43 MIL COST IN TOBACCO SMUGGLING CASE

Federal prosecutors allege a Connecticut man defrauded taxpayers in that state and Massachusetts of $43 million in a tobacco smuggling case. According to U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, Syed Bokhari, 50, of Middletown, Conn., appeared in federal court Friday in connection with a 32-count indictment alleging conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, trafficking in contraband smokeless tobacco, money laundering, and violation of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act. Authorities say Bokhari was the “de facto owner” of warehouses in Springfield and Danbury, Conn. and are charging him with failing to pay excise taxes on smokeless tobacco and cigars from at least 2008 through June 5, 2012 while also deploying fake invoices and false tax returns. The Springfield warehouse went by the names A-Z Discount Merchandise and Discount Novelties and Merchandise. Ortiz in a statement said Bokhari had deprived the states of “badly needed revenue that pays for essential government services like education, public safety, and infrastructure.” “Smuggling tobacco in order to evade state and local taxes is a multi-million dollar industry. It cheats the government as well by fueling an underground economy,” said Special Agent in Charge Bruce Foucart of Homeland Security Investigations Boston. “Fortunately, Homeland Security Investigations’ unique customs law enforcement authorities were designed specifically to target and investigate these types of crimes. Our special agents will continue tracking down these criminals in conjunction with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners.” – M. Norton/SHNS

TAX INDEXING OPPONENTS THREE RALLIES THIS WEEK

The campaign pressing to repeal the state law indexing the gas tax to inflation plans three noontime rallies this week. Jim Polito will address the campaign at Monday at Worcester City Hall, followed by Rep. Geoff Diehl on Wednesday at Arthur and Pat’s restaurant in Marshfield and Rep. Leah Cole Thursday at Signs Plus in Peabody. – M. Norton/SHNS

CLARK, DOLAN TO STUMP AGAINST SCOTT BROWN

Massachusetts officeholders are beating down a path up to Manchester, N.H. in their effort to prevent former Bay State resident Scott Brown from winning a Senate seat in that state. U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark and Melrose Mayor Rob Dolan plan a noon press conference up north on Monday to criticize Brown’s energy agenda. Senate President Therese Murray and former Sen. Steven Tolman, now president of the Massachusettts AFL-CIO, are among the Bay State officials who have already campaigned in New Hampshire against Brown, who is competing against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. – M. Norton/SHNS

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