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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Suspect in cigarette sales a jailer

Thomas Clouse Staff writer

Turns out, one of the suspects indicted in a massive federal investigation into the sale of untaxed cigarettes works for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office after all.

Joseph D. Dunsmoor, 30, was hired March 15, 2006, and works as a corrections deputy inside the Spokane County Jail, county Human Resources Director Kathy Malzahn said Tuesday. A day earlier, county officials had said no one by that name worked for them.

Dunsmoor appeared Monday in U.S. District Court along with three other men charged in connection with a case in which federal authorities are seeking $84 million from two Spokane wholesalers accused of selling at least 4 million cartons of untaxed cigarettes to the Coeur d’Alene smoke shops. Those businesses would in turn ship cigarettes to retail outlets in Washington where they were sold to non-Indians at below-retail prices.

On Monday, sheriff’s spokesman Detective David Thornburg told The Spokesman-Review that Dunsmoor was not employed at the Sheriff’s Office, and Dunsmoor’s attorney refused to say where he worked.

But sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan issued a news release Tuesday correcting Thornburg’s statement. “In fact, Dunsmoor is employed as a corrections deputy in the Spokane County Jail,” Reagan wrote. “The error regarding this mis-information is solely our own.”

Dunsmoor faces one count of conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes. If convicted, he could face up to five years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

According to the indictment, part of Dunsmoor’s duties were to deliver cigarettes to a location, which was redacted from the record. “In those instances, Joseph D. Dunsmoor would unload the Washington retailer’s order from the Blacksheep Distributing Inc. truck directly to the Washington retailer’s vehicle.”

The new indictment is the latest development in a state and federal investigation that began in 1999 and culminated with a series of raids on smoke shops on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in 2003, which was before Dunsmoor went to work as a corrections deputy.

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