• Smoke Shop Owner Denies Cigarette Trafficking
  • A Poospatuck Reservation smoke cigarettes shop owner pleaded not guilty Thursday to cigarette trafficking.

    Ronald Bell, 33, is charged with possession and transportation of untaxed cheap cigarettes and for attempting to evade New York State cigarette tax laws, Suffolk prosecutors said.

    Bell was on parole for cigarette trafficking when he was arrested Wednesday at his shop, the Flying Arrow Smoke Shop in Mastic, as he received nearly 6,000 cartons of untaxed “Nations Best” brand cigarettes through the mail from an upstate unlicensed cigarette manufacturer, prosecutors said.

    “The defendant intended to sell these cheap cigarettes and avoid more than $160,000 in excise taxes and $25,000 in state and county sales taxes,” Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said in a statement. “We also know that these discount cigarettes were made by an unlicensed, unregulated cigarette manufacturer, JTC Tobacco, in upstate Hogansburg.”

    The ongoing investigation is being conducted by Spota’s Tax Crimes Unit, Suffolk police, the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

    Bell was on parole for a conviction in 2007 for possessing and transporting more than 20,000 untaxed cigarettes. His bail was set at $5,000 and he was released from Suffolk County Jail the same day. His attorney, Howard Leader, was not immediately available for comment.