Tax stamps on cigarette pack pin armed robbery on dead man, imagines Chuck C. Johnson

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Minnesota's magical cigarette tax stamp knows when you are a crook!
Minnesota’s magical cigarette tax stamp knows when you are a crook!

Citing unnamed “police sources,” Award Winning Journalist™ and smear merchant Chuck C. Johnson claims tax stamps on a pack of Newport cigarettes “prove” Philando Castile held up a convenience store, so it was perfectly all right for a cop to shoot him dead.

Johnson also has land in the Everglades for sale, cheap!

Here’s how this high IQ-score brain works.

  • A tall African-American man held up a convenience store on July 2. He took some cartons of cigarettes.
  • Philando Castile is a tall African-American man. (They all look alike.) Also, he has a handgun permit. Or maybe he doesn’t. But he does. Whatever.
  • Castile’s lady friend, Lavisha Reynolds, smokes Newports. Also weed. And she bought firecrackers for her 4-year-old girl. She could have been the getaway driver.
  • Through some magic only imaginary police officers know, it is possible to track a specific tax stamp to a specific store and furthermore determine whether the carton was stolen or paid for.
  • Case closed.

See below for an excerpt from Johnson’s fever dream.

Since we don’t have any police sources in Minnesota, real or otherwise, we asked our fact checkers to research the plausibility of using tax stamps to track down cigarette-dependent criminals.

Briefly, it can’t be done. Johnson, as usual, is full of shit. We know you’re shocked.

Here’s how the law works in Minnesota.

  • Cigarette wholesalers have to obtain licenses from the state revenue department to distribute cigarettes. They also must pay for tax stamps to affix to cartons and packs, and keep an inventory of the tax stamp numbers.
  • Whenever a distributor sells cigarettes to retailers or subjobbers, they must record the buyer and the corresponding tax stamp numbers.
  • Retailers (as in convenience stores), meanwhile, must ensure all packs and cartons have valid state tax stamps and keep all invoices showing from whom they bought the cigarettes.
  • There seems to be no requirement that retailers record to whom they sell (or hand over at gunpoint) cigarettes. Nor is there a requirement for them to record which tax stamps leave their store.
  • Since Minnesota tax stamps are not machine readable, it’s fairly obvious that a salesclerk will not take time to record the tax stamp number manually at point of sale, especially as there is no requirement he or she do so.
  • So, the police, if they were so inclined, could determine from which store a pack came from, but there is no way to tell if the pack was paid for or stolen. The retailer does not keep those records.

Johnson was also among many right wing/racist pseudo-journalists who used a sheriff’s tweet as proof that Castile did not have a handgun permit. When another sheriff confirmed Castile did have a permit, Johnson and his cohorts were strangely silent.

In case there’s any doubt, Castile’s family shared this letter with CNN.


Johnson claimed Castile was a suspect in the robbery, but police never said he was, though it seems the officers who questioned him thought he looked a little like the armed robber. Johnson claims Castile and Reynolds were fleeing the scene of the crime, even though the robbery happened July 2 and they were stopped four days later. It was a very slow getaway, clearly.

It’s all just the usual Chuck C. Johnson racist bullshit. This time, though, he’s making up stuff even more unbelievable than usual.

We have asked the Minnesota tax revenue department for confirmation of our conclusions, and are awaiting their reply.

In the meantime, readers may peruse the following sources.

Distributors ordering tax stamps
Distributor responsibilities to record tax stamp numbers and sales [PDF]
Retailer responsibilities [PDF]

Then contemplate the reasoning of the high-IQ Chuck C. Johnson.

Connect the dots, lalalala!
Connect the dots, lalalala!

Gee, maybe they impounded the car because someone was shot dead inside it. Just a guess.

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  1. ” Chuck C. Johnson claims tax stamps on a pack of Newport cigarettes “prove” Philando Castile held up a convenience store”

    He never makes that claim. That’s your straw-man. *shrug*

    1. Did you read his post all the way through? He says, “Did she lay low after she and Castile robbed the store?” Previously, he said the guy in the surveillance video looked just like Castile. He says Reynolds was the getaway driver. So, it seems obvious Chuck means Castile robbed the store. If you read the part I screencapped from his post, he says the police “tied” the stamps to the vehicle used in the robbery, then he says the vehicle resembled Castile’s car. If you’re going to accuse someone of faulty logic, don’t look at me.

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