Winnebago Tribe waiting for New York to return seized tobacco

A business owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska is waiting on the state of New York to return tobacco that a judge said was illegally seized.

HCI Distribution purchased $400,000 worth of tobacco products from a retailer on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation. State police seized the items but a judge ruled they must be returned because they were clearly meant for sale outside of New York.

It's been six months since the seizure. Until the tribe gets back its property, the amount of damage won't be known, an attorney said.

“While we are gratified by our ability to offer the winning argument in this lawsuit, we are concerned about the condition of the merchandise seized and the timetable for return of our client’s merchandise by New York State authorities. Until the product is actually returned, we won’t know the full extent of the financial damage facing our client," attorney Joe Messineo of Fredericks Peebles & Morgan said in a press release.

The state hasn't decided whether to appeal the judge's decision, The Albany Times-Union reported.

Get the Story:
State judge says police have no right to seize native cigarettes bound for out of state (The Albany Times-Union 6/21)

New York State Court Decision:
HCI Distribution v. New York State Police (June 18, 2012)

Related Stories:
Winnebago Tribe wins decision over tobacco seized in New York (6/20)
Tobacco products from St. Regis Mohawk Reservation seized (04/30)

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