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    N.Y. Cigarette Supplier to Senecas Loses License

    Smoke shops are forced to seek out other wholesalers.

    ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York State stripped the license of a major Salamanca tobacco distributor, leaving retailers from the Seneca Nation of Indians scrambling to find new sources of cigarettes and casting doubt over the jobs of dozens of workers at the wholesale company, according to The Buffalo (N.Y.) News.

    The state Department of Taxation and Finance quietly pulled the license of A.D. Bedell Co. last week, a month after its president and sole stockholder, Page Martin, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy charges as part of a massive tobacco-smuggling ring, the newspaper reported.
    Industry officials said the action against Bedell, a major supplier to Seneca smoke shops and Internet operators, has forced Indian retailers to frantically search out other wholesalers across the state to help them get cigarettes to their customers who have come to rely on the tax-free tobacco products from the Senecas, according to the news report.

    Bedell's license to distribute cigarettes was lifted as of last Wednesday because of Martin's guilty plea and for violations of a number of tax laws relating to cigarette distribution. The firm has 90 days to appeal, according to Thomas Bergin, a tax agency spokesman, The Buffalo News reported.

    Some Seneca leaders have been considering whether to buy the company as a way to help the tribe bypass a new law, expected to kick in next March, requiring the taxation of cigarette sales by Indians to non-Indians. The tax will be collected at the wholesale level. Some Seneca leaders believed that owning the company, as a wholesaler, could allow them to skirt the new law, the news report stated.

    Industry insiders, however, say the idea would not give the Senecas the legal protections they seek.

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