LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Yossi Galamidi, owner of Blaze Smoke Shop on Ryan Street, owes “thousands of dollars in back taxes” and was selling cigars and vapor products without a permit, according to Troy Hebert, Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control commissioner.

Galamidi’s attorney, Glen Vamvoras, however, said that Galamidi has caught up on his taxes and paid them several weeks ago.

Galamidi had been selling tobacco products without a permit since his expired on March 31, Hebert said. In addition, Galamidi was not registered to pay excise taxes.

“The fact that he wasn’t even registered to pay excise taxes shows he hasn’t paid any of those taxes, then the sales taxes will be what the auditor will find,” Hebert said. “That type of business — the reason why we’re not going to tolerate it is: think how unfair it is to all the other businesses that are paying their taxes and abiding by the law and operating legally and this guy here has been operating for well over six months now and not paying an excise taxes as well as having issues with not paying what he’s supposed to pay in sales taxes.”

Vamvoras said that since Galamidi was only issued a summons for a misdemeanor — selling tobacco products without a permit — he should not have been arrested. It was a “mission” to arrest Galamidi, Vamvoras said.

Vamvoras said that the ATC officer told him he had orders from Baton Rouge to arrest Galamidi, although local authorities refused to book Galamidi on a misdemeanor and released him on a summons.

If Galamidi was in violation of the law, it was unintentional, Vamvoras said, adding that both he and Galamidi were unaware that vapor products fell under a tobacco permit. Galamidi was in the process of renewing his license, he said.

“He had a license, he was renewing his license that had expired,” Vamvoras said. “He was in the process of renewing his license. Regardless, it’s a misdemeanor summons.”

As of now, Galamidi cannot sell tobacco products, Hebert said. The Department of Revenue had auditors at Blaze Smoke Shop Tuesday afternoon attempting to resolve the tax situation, Hebert said.

“He definitely has some issues over there,” Hebert said. “He’s certainly not operating within the parameters of the law. We’re not going to tolerate that type of activity so we’re going to shut him down. I think it’s unfair to all those other good businesses and that’s why we act swiftly on it.”

Vamvoras said Galamidi admitted he was behind in paying taxes, but paid what he owed several weeks ago. Representatives of the Department of Revenue were scheduled to show up Tuesday, but did not, Vamvoras said. Should they show up, Galamidi will allow them to look at his books.

Whether Galamidi can continue to sell glass pipes is out of the jurisdiction of the ATC, Hebert said.

Galamidi was arrested in May 2013 after the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office raided Blaze Smoke Shop and charged with unlawfully supplying a product for the purpose of falsifying a drug screen.

Galamidi pleaded guilty in October 2014 to one count of unlawfully supplying a product for the purpose of falsifying a drug screen as part of a plea deal that allowed him to get back 12,000 glass smoking devices that had been removed from his store.

Prior to opening Blaze Smoke Shop, Galamidi owned a smoke shop in South Carolina, where he also ran into controversy.

Johnathan Manning,  KPLC

Blaze Shop owner arrested