New York AG: Accused Md. cigarette smuggler wanted witnesses dead, hatched plot from jail

An accused leader of a major East Coast cigarette-smuggling ring is facing more charges: plotting from a New York City jail to get witnesses killed.

Basel Ramadan of Ocean City, Md., and accused accomplice Yousseff Odeh pleaded not guilty Thursday to conspiracy.

Defense lawyer Marc Agnifilo said Friday that Ramadan was just venting frustrations, not truly planning a murder for hire. Odeh's lawyer, Andrew Ehrenpreis (EHR'-uhn-prees), declined to comment.

Ramadan, Odeh and 14 others were charged previously with selling over a million cartons of untaxed cigarettes in New York after illegally importing them from Virginia.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly have noted that similar schemes in the past raised money for terrorist groups. No terror-related charges have been brought in this case.