Hogansburg, Burke men plead guilty in cigarette case, face 2 years in jail and forfeiture of $5 million
Friday, January 18, 2013 - 5:45 pm

UTICA -- Men from Hogansburg and Burke have pled guilty in U.S. District Court to federal charges of illegally manufacturing cigarettes at Akwesasne, the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation.

Jody Swamp, 48, Hogansburg, and Robert C. Oliver, Sr., 53, Burke, entered guilty pleas that will result in jail terms of at least two years and forfeiture of $5,000,000 in proceeds.

Swamp and Oliver pled guilty to one count each of manufacturing cigarettes without filing the bond and obtaining the required permit, and of failure to maintain records concerning the shipment, receipt, sale, and distribution of cigarettes.

The first charge carries a maximum sentence of up to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, supervised release of up to 3 years, and a special assessment of $100. The second carries a maximum sentence of up to three years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, supervised release of up to three years, and a special assessment of $100.

A news release from the court said that if the terms of the plea agreements are accepted by the court, each Swamp and Oliver will be sentenced between 24 to 30 months in prison, three years probation, a fine of up to $250,000, forfeiture of $5,000,000 with $1,000,000 to be paid at sentencing, and a special assessment of $200.

The court said the two men admitted to manufacturing cigarettes between July 2010 and October 2011 at Akwesasne without the required permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and failed to pay the federal excise tax of approximately $10 for each carton of cigarettes produced.

The defendants had scores of shipments of more than 10,000 cigarettes sent to various places in New York, Florida and Maine, all without complying with federal record-keeping requirements, so they could evade federal excise tax, prosecutors charged.

The investigation found that more than 2,500 cases totaling 75,000 cartons of unlicensed cigarettes were shipped from a property on Frogtown Road, Akwesasne.

The $5,000,000 forfeiture in the plea agreement represents the amount of profit realized by the defendants from their illegal cigarette manufacturing, according to the court.

Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 3, 2013, before Judge David N. Hurd in Utica.

The defendants were released on their own recognizance pending sentencing.

The indictment resulted from an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the New York State Police, and the Petroleum, Alcohol, and Tobacco Bureau of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin P. Dooley of the Binghamton office, and Assistant Attorney General Meryl Lutsky of the New York Attorney General's Office,