The state has seized a tobacco retailer’s truck from Seneca which contained thousands of cartons of cigarettes, this move many see as a test conducted by the government as Albany seems to begin collecting taxes on Indian cigarette sales in the months ahead.
This truck was confiscated on Monday by at least one state tax and finance agent as it went between the tribe’s Cattaraugus and Allegany reservations.
“The state seized thousands of cartons of cigarettes that didn’t have a New York State tax stamp as requested by the law,” Brad Maione, a tax department spokesman, stated.
He also added that all tobacco products were illegally held by an individual situated outside the reservation property. He refused to answer any questions about the given case.
The truck belonged to Aaron J. Pierce, a Seneca businessman who was among those demanding in court the lawfulness of a new federal law that is related to mail-order tobacco product trade.
Pierce refused to comment the situation and referred calls to his lawyer Lisa Coppola. Recently she released a statement from Pierce’s company, AJ’s Wholesale, naming the confiscation without any warrant “illegal.”
The confiscation was made just one day before Seneca Nation business entities asked a federal judge in Buffalo to postpone the federal government’s ban on mailing tobacco products until their request will be heard by a higher court.
The dueling demands are part of the negative consequences from Arcara’s order last month supporting the main problem of a new federal law as Seneca business owners state will worsen their mail-order cigarette operations.
“At the given moment they are shutting down,” William Parry, the owner of Wolf’s Run in Irving stated after the two-hour hearing. “There are many people who remain without work”.
Outside the hearing room, Seneca business entities are facing with state government that is keen to undertake severe measures on untaxed cigarettes.
AJ’s Wholesale cited a bid in Central New York by local government officials to confiscate Indian cigarettes, later on this move was turned down by the courts.
According to AJ’s the agents of state tax “abandoned” the truck driver “and boxes of melting candy” on the Route 353A outside the Town of Dayton. It declared that the confiscation was unconstitutional.
“This shocking confiscation is an evident retribution for my company’s litigation in federal court,” Pierce stated.
Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder Sr. stated that stopping and confiscating of the truck was something “unparalleled” for goods traveling between the Seneca reservations. He also added that tobacco products were legally moving between Seneca-licensed business entities.
This confiscation raised concern among many officials from Seneca, who are worried that tobacco products with a tribal tax stamp will be seized by state officials.
“Stopping vehicles that go from one territory to another is something unprecedented. We are all a unique entity: the Seneca Nation,” declared Richard Nephew, chairman of the Seneca Tribal Council.