Lawrence businessman faces federal indictment in connection with operation of local liquor store

By Caitlin Doornbos
June 24, 2015

A Lawrence businessman was indicted in federal court on one count on conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, three counts of mail fraud and one count of shielding an undocumented immigrant from government detection, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday.

Nitin B. Patel, who co-owns Roy’s Wines & Spirits, 721 Wakarusa Drive, is accused of scheming with business partner Satishkuma V. Patel, of McPherson, who allegedly immigrated illegally to the U.S. from India, “to operate a retail liquor store even though not legally qualified to do so,” according to the indictment.

Nitin Patel co-owns Maruti Enterprises, LLC, with Satishkuma Patel, according to the indictment. Maruti Enterprises, which was formed in 2008, operates the Lawrence liquor store.

Nitin Patel, a United States citizen, is accused of knowingly providing false information on a liquor license renewal application through the Kansas Department of Revenue’s Alcohol Beverage Control Division. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom alleges that Nitin Patel knew Satishkuma Patel was not a U.S. citizen but said otherwise in government documents.

In Kansas, foreign nationals may not obtain retail liquor licenses
, and recent immigrants must have been a U.S. citizen for at least 10 years before obtaining one, according to Grissom. Despite the legal requirements, Satishkuma allegedly maintained 30 percent of Roy’s Wines & Spirits “at least through December 2014,” the indictment said.

The two co-owners allegedly “notified the Kansas ABC Licensing Unit in writing” in a May 2010 filing that Nitin Patel owned 70 percent of the company, while Satishkuma Patel owned 30 percent.

In that filing, the Patels allegedly indicated that both co-owners were U.S. citizens for at least 10 years, but in fact, Satishkuma had never been a U.S. citizen at all. The filing was dated and submitted to the state licensing agency on the 10th anniversary of Nitin Patel’s naturalization date, according to the affidavit. The business had first opened in 2008.

Satishkuma Patel is charged with 26 counts in connection with not only the Lawrence liquor store operation, but also illegal immigration and falsifying government documents, the illegal operation of a McPherson convenience store and employment and harboring fellow undocumented immigrants.

If convicted of the charges, Nitin Patel could face up to 25 years in prison and forfeiture of profits made through the illegal operation of Roy’s Wine & Spirits.

Satishkuma also faces decades in federal prison if convicted of all charges, plus forfeiture of his profits from both the McPherson and Lawrence businesses.

Roy’s Wine & Spirits remained open Wednesday, despite being closed Tuesday evening as the state Alcoholic Beverage Control and other law enforcement agencies were on site, according to Douglas County dispatch and witnesses at the scene. It was unclear what the agencies were doing at the business Tuesday evening.

The Journal-World is awaiting comment from Alcoholic Beverage Control.