The former owner of a popular Charleswood-area restaurant pleaded guilty this morning to possessing several thousand contraband cigarettes.
Mauro Cutrone, 66, was originally charged in November with possessing and selling unmarked tobacco products following an investigation by Manitoba Finance special investigations unit.
Court was told that acting on a tip, investigators followed Cutrone and observed him selling three plastic bags containing a total of 600 cigarettes to another man for $96.
Cutrone was stopped and a search of his vehicle found $1,320 in cash, 34 plastic bags, each containing 200 cigarettes, and five cartons of cigarettes. The cigarettes were contraband and lacked a government seal.
Court was told that Cutrone used to own a popular restaurant – Bella Roma on Roblin Boulevard – but had since retired and has no criminal record.
Cutrone’s defense lawyer said that Cutrone was a heavy smoker and a gambling addict, adding that most of the cash found by authorities had come from VLT winnings.
The charge of selling the unmarked cigarettes was stayed.
Cutrone was ordered to pay a fine and court surcharges totaling $1,910 and a tax penalty of $5,850. The contraband cigarettes were seized by the court. He was given three months to pay.