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N.H. AG clears state liquor stores of any wrongdoing related to cash transactions with bootleggers

Todd Bookman / NHPR
Customers from out of state routinely purchase large quantities of Hennessy cognac, as well as other products, at New Hampshire liquor stores.

After a four-year investigation, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office says the state’s Liquor Commission isn’t violating any state or federal laws in how it handles large all-cash sales.

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Concerns about cash transactions were first raised in 2018 by former Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky and Richard Gulla, president of the State Employees Association, which represents liquor store employees. They alleged that 'bootleggers' from out of state frequent New Hampshire liquor stores, purchasing huge quantities of liquor using all-cash transactions. They alleged customers travel to multiple locations in a single day to avoid triggering reporting requirements to the IRS, which tracks cash sales in excess of $10,000.

In a 12-page reportreleased Friday, the attorney general’s office says it found no evidence of wrongdoing by the commission, and that the agency has policies in place that encourage employees to report suspicious transactions. The office also included a letter from the IRS confirming that government entities are not required to submit paperwork for cash sales in excess of $10,000.

The attorney general also noted that there are no laws capping the size of a transaction at state liquor stores, and that “the Legislature has not imposed any limits upon the amount of liquor that a person or business can purchase in a single transaction.”

The liquor commission has implemented a range of policies related to what it calls “large volume cash sales,” including the use of cash-counting machines at registers and armored vehicles to deposit funds.

Editor’s note: this story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Copyright 2022 New Hampshire Public Radio. To see more, visit New Hampshire Public Radio.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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