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St. Regis Mohawk member gets 15 months in prison over untaxed cigarettes

A man who was arrested in 2016 when police found 900,000 untaxed cigarettes in his U-Haul truck was sentenced in federal court this week to 15 months in prison.

Ian Tarbell, 46, a member of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.

Tarbell was arrested in Pembroke in early 2016 by Genesee County Sheriff's deputies and eventually admitted he was taking the contraband cigarettes to a Seneca Nation distributor.

Until the plea deal was reached, Tarbell argued that his transport of cigarettes from the St. Regis reservation to the Seneca reservation was a longstanding practice protected by law.

Tarbell's sentence is the result of a prosecution by Assistant U.S Attorney Russell T. Ippolito Jr. and an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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