April 23, 2014

Mostly clear

Men face charges over tobacco taxes

Scott Gardner

Philip Labondano

MEDINA — Two men pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of avoiding payment of tobacco taxes on their Medina cigar shop.

Scott Gardner, 39, of Ravenna, and Philip Labondano, 49, of 1041 Continental Drive, Medina, each are charged with records tampering, tobacco trafficking with intent to avoid taxes, interference with inspections and forgery.

The charges are third-, fourth- and fifth-degree felonies, punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Indictments accuse the pair of avoiding payment of the taxes in 2009 and 2010.

County Prosecutor Dean Holman said the shop, Medina Cigar Co., 307 E. Washington St., is under new management. The name has been changed to Medina Cigar & Tobacco Company.

Holman said Gardner is a police officer in Cleveland.