Man sentenced to 37 months in prison for Cuban cigar smuggling

No harm in smuggling a few Cuban cigars back into the country after a trip abroad, right?

Tell that to Illinois attorney Richard Connors. After bringing some cigars into the country way back in the 1990s, he was finally sentenced to 37 months in prison, fined $60,000, and disbarred!

As to the disbarment, the ethics board found that Connors had engaged in criminal acts that reflected adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer. It also found that his conduct “tended to bring the legal profession into disrepute.”

The judge must have been a cigar fan, because in the ruling the court went on about Cuban cigars in particular and cigars in general. “It is undisputed that the leaves grown in the fertile soil of the Vuelta Abajo, in the western province of Pinar del Río, cultivated and prepared according to centuries-old traditions, produce an incomparably smooth, pungent, and full-bodied smoke,” the court wrote. “Actually, all cigars do,” the court said in a footnote. “As Rudyard Kipling noted in The Betrothed, ‘[A] woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a Smoke.’ “

Before you panic, you need to know a couple more details. First, this wasn’t a situation where Connors was taking the bands off a few cigars and bringing them back from Mexico. According to the ruling, Connors made more than 30 trips to and from Cuba from 1996 to 1999, bringing back as many as 46 boxes of cigars on one trip, with a value of about $350 per box. Second, the only reason Connors was busted was because his ex-wife ratted him out. Yes, she decided to get back at her ex by notifying the U.S. Customs Service of his side business.

Hell hath no fury . . .

Leave a Reply