A Scottsbluff businessman whose holdings at one time included a convenience store in Chadron has been sentenced to 4 months in jail for bootlegging.
59-year-old Kuldip “Cheema” Singh was also fined $6,000. He had faced up to 2 years in prison.
Singh was convicted by a Scotts Bluff County Court jury in May on 4 counts each of Evading or Attempting to Evade Liquor Tax and Acquiring Liquor From Other Than a Licensed Dealer.
Defense attorney Maren Chalupka asked for probation, but Judge Kris Mickey said anything other than jail time would lessen the seriousness of the crime, which he described as cheating the system by buying less expensive liquor in Wyoming and selling it in Nebraska.
Chaloupka, who was hired only recently by Singh, said afterward that she plans to file an appeal immediately.
The case began last fall when a Nebraska State Patrol investigation located 36 bottles of liquor in Singh’s Scottsbluff convenience store that had been purchased in Wyoming but were being sold in Nebraska without state taxes being paid.
Singh is the owner of the Thrifty’s and Cheema’s gas station-convenience store-liquor store chains, which does not include Cheema’s in Chadron.
He’s said in past interviews that he came to the United States in 1991 from India and first lived in big cities, but then wanted to be somewhere rural. He moved to Scottsbluff in the late 1990s.