Indian Tribe Accused of Money Laundering

Federal authorities say the Seneca-Cayuga Indian Tribe of Oklahoma was using it's Skydancer Smoke Shop in Seneca Falls in a money laundering scheme.

Last month agents with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives raided the store on East Bayard Street and seized 800 cases of untaxed cigarettes and almost $600,000 dollars from the store and the tribes bank account.

According to the Democrat and Chronicle, court records show that more than $16 million dollars was deposited in smoke shop's local bank account in 2012.

Photo by Greg Cotterill, Finger Lakes News Radio

In an affidavit, Scott Heagney, who heads the Rochester region ATF office, wrote that the Native American tribe that owns the shop is recognized in Oklahoma, but not in New York.  Authorities allege that the lack of New York recognition for the tribe precludes it from selling untaxed cigarettes in New York.

No criminal charges have been brought against the store or the tribe.

Last year the federal government has seized more than $266,000 from the bank account of a tobacco company owned by the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma and detained a tobacco wholesaler in New York as part of a multistate investigation into the alleged illegal trafficking of tens of millions of dollars worth of untaxed cigarettes.

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