A member of the St. Regis Mohawk Indian tribe is accused of illegally transporting untaxed cigarettes to a Seneca Nation distributor.
Ian Tarbell, 43, was arrested in the Town of Pembroke in February after a search of his U-Haul truck by Genesee County Sheriff’s deputies resulted in the seizure of 900,000 unpackaged cigarettes.
Tarbell’s case was moved from state court to federal court, where he appeared Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer.
“The defendant is accused of transporting thousands of cigarettes," Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell T. Ippolito Jr. told Roemer.
Tarbell’s lawyer says his client’s transport of cigarettes from the St. Regis reservation to the Seneca reservation is a longstanding practice protected by law.
“This is very, very old law," said Michael Rhodes-Devey of Delmar, Tarbell’s defense lawyer. He said state charges against his client have been dismissed.
Tarbell was released on bail.