Former tribal chairman disputes state cigarette tax

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A former Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Chairman says he plans to take the state of Connecticut to court over Native American-made cigarettes.

Kenny Reels tells The Day the state Department of Revenue Services seized cigarettes in his store on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation made by other Native American tribes.

He said Thursday he didn’t pay state taxes on those cigarettes, and he believes they are exempt from taxes because they are distributed between sovereign tribes.

A revenue department spokesman says the raid on Reels’ store was part of an “ongoing criminal investigation.” He declined to comment further.

Reels’ lawyer says his client has complied with all state laws.

Reels says he plans for his tribe to eventually grown its own tobacco and sell its own cigarettes.

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