Cayuga Nation offers to pay counties' legal bills
By: The Citizen staff report
Monday, July 13, 2009 3:44 PM EDT
The Cayuga Indian Nation of New York has offered a settlement to Cayuga and Seneca counties asking them to drop an ongoing cigarette tax evasion case in exchange for the tribe picking up counties' legal tab and dropping a potential multimillion dollar lawsuit.
The offer comes three days after a state appeals court ruled that the tribe could continue selling untaxed cigarettes from its Lake Side Trading convenience stores in Union Springs and Seneca Falls. The ruling overturned a lower court decision that had said the counties' criminal investigation, including a November raid on the tribes' stores to seize unstamped cigarettes, was legal.
Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said on Friday that he planned to file a notice of appeal against that decision to preserve the counties' rights while it reviews the matter.
Dan French, an attorney representing the Cayugas, said Monday that he was confident that continuing the legal battle would only result in another loss for the counties and additional legal fees.
The counties have already been charged $180,000 in legal fees, French said, and could be sued for millions more by the tribe for the loss of property, which consists mainly of seized cigarettes, and the loss of business.
"(The Nation) is concerned the counties will continue to fight, and if they lose, then the residents will be on the hook for thousands of dollars in legal fees and millions in damages," French said. "We wanted to give the counties a graceful way out."
Budelmann was not immediately available for comment.