Judge: State Police Had No Right To Seize Cigarettes

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A state Supreme Court judge has ruled state police had no right to seize a truckload of untaxed Native American-made cigarettes earlier this year.

Judge David Demarest ordered the immediate release of close to 26,000 cartons of untaxed Signal brand cigarettes in a ruling filed Wednesday.

The cigarettes were made on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation by Ohserase Manufacturing.

In his ruling, Demarest found the native-made cigarettes were not required to be taxed because they were going to a customer outside the state.

The judge, however, left open the question of whether transport of native-made tobacco products between reservations within the state may be taxed.

State police seized the truckload of tobacco products January 23.

The tobacco products, including cigars and pipe tobacco, were being shipped from the St. Regis reservation to the Ho-Chunk company, operated by the Winnebago Tribe in Nebraska.

The estimated taxes on the native tobacco products totaled close to $1.1 million.

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Friday, October 24, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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