Feds: Cook County revenue inspector’s scheme goes up in smoke

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He was supposed to go from store to store, checking to make sure merchants were paying cigarette and other tobacco taxes, but the FB I says the Cook County revenue investigator was involved in an on-the-job bribery scheme.

Robert Mitchell, 39, of Chicago, was arrested Tuesday night and charged with attempted extortion in a criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court. Authorities allege Mitchell would give merchants a heads up when investigators were about to head to their stores for a closer look at their tobacco in exchange for $600 monthly payments, according to the Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.

The alleged scheme began last year after Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Sheriff Tom Dart announced a crackdown on stores selling illegal cigarettes, including packs without the required tax stamp – evidence the $2 county levy has been paid.

Mitchell has been suspended from his $69,000-a-year county job, according to Preckwinkle’s office.

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