A 50-page application for a search warrant filed in US District Court for the Western District of New York on January 15th details all information federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives were looking for when they went on to raid the Seneca Falls Skydancer Smoke Shop owned and operated by the Seneca-Cayuga Indians of Oklahoma.
The court documents say the tribe was using the property for money laundering offenses. More than $16 million dollars was deposited in a local bank account in 2012.
That bank has been identified as the Community Bank NA at 70 Fall Street in downtown Seneca Falls. Community Bank, N.A. is headquartered in DeWitt, New York, a suburb of Syracuse and has branch offices located in Upstate New York stretching diagonally from Northern New York to the Southern Tier and west to Lake Erie.
The application for the search warrant details undercover agents visiting the store and purchasing 60 cartons of various bands of cigarettes for a total cost of $1,900.00. Over $90,000 dollars was deposited in the Skydancer's Communioty Bank account on that same day last December.
Read the 50- page application for the search warrant.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives raided the Skydancer Smoke Shop in Seneca Falls on January 16, 2013.
Agents were seen taking away pallets of cases of what were labeled as Indian-manufactured cigarettes.
ATF Resident Agent-in-Charge Scott Heagney says the tribe is in violation of the federal tax laws.
Heagney says agents seized between 800 and 1,000 cases of cigarettes, money, and computer records.
“We received a complaint about this particular store and the volume of untaxed cigarettes they were selling in contrast with other stores in the area that are playing by the rules,” said Scott Heagney, resident agent in charge of ATF in Rochester. “They (other stores) are selling taxed cigarettes; it ends up being a big business disadvantage.”
The store has not reopened since the raid.
Photos by Greg Cotterill, Finger Lakes News Radio