A Port Charlotte man was sentenced to 36 months on probation for smuggling in Cuban cigars and rum.
Douglas Hiner, 69, pleaded guilty in August to one count of importing the illegal goods.
At his sentencing today, Hiner told U.S. District Judge John Steele he was a millionaire businessman in Omaha before a business partner swindled his money.
Living in Port Charlotte, he would take trips on his 53-foot sailboat to Cuba to deliver medical supplies from associates in Nebraska to the island country.
Over time, he would buy boxes of Cuban cigars for friends and then began buying them in bulk for profit. But, he was buying street-level cigars instead of high-quality cigars, so he wasn't able to sell them in the United States.
According to court documents, Hiner had more than 28,000 Cuban cigars in a storage unit in North Fort Myers. Agents also found 100 cartons of Cuban cigarettes, four dozen bottles of Cuban rum and 30 pounds of Cuban coffee.
"The problem is, I didn't know what I was doing," he said. "I was wrong - I apologize to the court. I feel very embarrassed to be in this situation."
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Source: The News-Press